Samsung Electronics has acquired a 100% stake in artificial intelligence (AI) startup Kngine, the company announced today. The San Francisco based startup specialises in an AI search engine that understands, answers questions and perform actions. This is the second AI startup acquisition by Samsung in the last four months. In late November 2017, the company had acquired Korean AI startup Fluenty, which also specialises in conversational AI.
Set up in 2013 in Egypt, Kngine is an intelligent engine that can be used to automate customer service, power voice interfaces and drive enterprise search. The intelligent engine combines state of the art Deep Learning and Knowledge-based AI methodologies to create “biologically plausible knowledge representations.” This literally means that the AI strives to function like a human brain. Kngine crawls the web, enterprise documents, books, FAQs and even customer service logs to achieve this level of artificial intelligence.
The search engine first understands the questions and then breaks them down into sub-questions and dependencies. It then forms a solution plan, searching through its knowledge graph from countless documents. Finally, it gathers a pool of possible answers before surfacing the most plausible answer to the query.
Samsung had actually invested in Kngine jointly with Vodafone Ventures Egypt in 2014, a Samsung official revealed to The Investor. Samsung Next, a venture capital unit of Samsung Research America, has now acquired complete ownership of the firm. None of the two parties have disclosed the financial details of the takeover.
The acquisition is considered to be in line with Samsung’s efforts to advance its AI mobile solution, Bixby. In a bid to improve Bixby, the South Korean tech giant has acquired a few AI firms in the recently. The company also hired Larry Heck, who played a crucial role in developing Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, last year. Samsung has also invested in other AI companies such as Reactor Labs, Expect Labs and Vicarious.
Samsung plans to launch Bixby 2.0, the next generation of Bixby, alongside its next flagship, Samsung Galaxy Note 9, in the later half of this year. There might still be a lot more to do with Bixby 2.0 and this latest acquisition hints to be in line with its efforts.