Partnerships / Acquisitions

Samsung Beefs Up AI Efforts With Kngine Buy

Samsung, the South Korean consumer electronics company, has reportedly acquired Kngine, the artificial intelligence (AI) search engine startup.

According to news from BGR, citing The Investor, Samsung acquired 100 percent of the company for an undisclosed sum. “Our research arm Samsung Research America acquired the entire stake in October last year,” a Samsung official told The Investor, according to BGR.

Kngine builds mobile services that can understand and answer questions using a deep learning algorithm. The company said its neural network searches the web constantly to understand its contents and to expand its knowledge base.

Samsung really wants Bixby, its mobile voice assistant, to be a formidable competitor against power players like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri. BGR noted this new purchase is aimed at beefing up the company’s AI mobile efforts.

However, Samsung’s AI ambitions were temporarily stalled in February when news surfaced that its former CTO of Samsung Mobile, Injong Rhee, would be leaving the company to join team Google as an entrepreneur-in-residence. In recent years, Rhee has served as the head of Samsung mobile’s research and development team 1, which oversaw software and services. He was also one of the driving forces behind the rollout of Bixby after Samsung acquired Viv in early 2017.

Rhee, apart from his official contributions to the bottom line, was also well-known for his somewhat eccentric personality during his time at Samsung. Apart from displaying a wealth of knowledge about software, media reports also frequently mentioned his very long hair and rather unusual speaking style. His expertise in software allowed him to be quickly promoted to key positions within the company. 

At Google, Rhee said he will be focusing on Internet of Things projects, though he has not offered any specific enumeration as to what that might mean.

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