Samsung Buys AI Company from Siri Developers

Carl Weinschenk

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic. The latest news is that Samsung is acquiring the AI and personal assistant platform Viv, which was developed by the trio that created Siri for Apple.

TechCrunch says that Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham sold their initial entry to Apple in 2010 and founded Viv two years later. Viv will continue to operate as a separate company. The two pillars of the platform are its interconnected nature and the programmability of its backend systems.  The latter capability is particularly intriguing:

Viv calls this “dynamic program generation,” and it allows Viv to understand the intent of the user and to create programs to handle tasks on the fly, even if it’s never heard that particular one in the past.

Millennial Smartphone Use Continues to Grow

Any time it seems that video consumption on smartphones couldn’t go up any more … it goes up. Part of the reason is that folks find new ways to use their devices. NPD Group this week released research that found that the percentage of millennials surveyed by the firm using their phones for video calling rose from 42 percent to 56 percent. The percentage using it for shopping has risen from 49 percent to 59 percent, and for video streaming, from 31 percent to 40 percent.

Commentary in the press release says that device use continues to move from computers to smartphones. There is nothing new in that, of course. The important takeaway for businesses is that the millennials they hire may perform better if allowed to use these devices. Carriers need to keep bulking up their networks, too.

Gartner: Device Sales Sink Again

Gartner said that combined shipments of devices – including PCs, tablets, smartphones and other form factors – will fall 3 percent this year. That, according to the firm, is the second straight year of decline.

The fall off this year is far greater than in 2015, according to eWeek. Last year, the market fell by only 0.75 percent. The return to single digit growth is not expected to happen “anytime soon.”

Both of those categories are predicted to have single-digit growth. The five years ahead are expected to be flat. The silver linings this year, according to Gartner, are premium ultramobile devices and entry-level mobile phones.

DDoS Attacks on IoT Devices: Very Scary

One of the great fears of the Internet of Things (IoT) is that the skills and insight of crackers (malicious hackers) are ahead of those of the people trying to defend the devices.

Those fears could be close to playing out in the real world. Deepak Puri, the founder of SkilledAnalysts, posted a commentary at Network World describing the grim reality of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on IoT sensors.

Puri lays out a four-step process in which IoT devices are captured, subverted, activated and attack targets chosen by the crackers. This seems no different from other DDoS attacks. What is different, however, are the sheer number and weakness of these targets:

Millions of vulnerable IoT devices make it easier for hackers to assemble the firepower needed for a DDoS attack. IoT device manufacturers keen to lower costs often neglect security provisions. This neglect causes widespread harm and hampers longer-term IoT growth. It’s hard to update a vulnerable IoT device with better safeguards once it’s been installed.

Puri describes the problem and suggests what devices crackers may go after. What he doesn’t offer – because he can’t – is an easy way to address the problem.

Is Samsung Digging a Deep Hole for Itself?

On Wednesday, a Galaxy Note7 caught fire and forced the evacuation of a Southwest jet in Louisville. Nobody was hurt.

Samsung had replaced faulty Galaxy Note7s because of incidents such as this. The disturbing thing for the company is that the phone that caught fire reportedly was one of the replacements.

If it turns out that the device indeed was one of the replacements, it is a big problem for the vendor. It is bad enough to issue faulty phones in the first place, but not successfully replacing them creates an even more serious credibility issue.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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