Samsung Electronics Co. is developing a voice-activated speaker powered by its virtual assistant Bixby, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The project, internally known as “Vega”, has been in development for at least a year, the paper said.
The timing is not clear and many of the speaker’s features and other specifications are yet to be decided, several of the sources said.
A Samsung speaker would enter into an already saturated market of voice-activated speakers, with Amazon’s Echo leading the race, capturing more than 70 percent of the U.S. market for the speakers, according to market-research firm eMarketer.
Alphabet Inc. – which owns Google – and Microsoft Corp., also have voice-activated speakers. Google Home has been on the market since November 2016, and has taken up 24 percent of the market, while Microsoft unveiled its own Amazon Echo competitor in December that same year. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has said that it also plans to introduce its own device powered by voice-recognition technology.
Samsung’s progress has been slowed by the postponement of a U.S. launch of the English-language version of Bixby, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company previously said that the English-language version of the digital assistant would be ready by spring, but one of the sources added that Samsung has internally expressed doubts about those voice features being ready before the second half of July.
In March Jean-Daniel Ayme, Samsung’s corporate vice president for mobile in Europe, told CNBC that Bixby’s integration with its flagship Samsung Galaxy S8 phone would set it apart from competitors. “The integration we will have is deeper than anybody else will be able to do,” he said. “The integration with the camera will be much deeper as we are the hardware manufacturer. In the camera you can use Bixby vision without going out of the camera interface, that is something that will be different.”
A Samsung spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that the company doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.