Samsung could be developing the first virtual assistant named Sam that could accompany or even replace Bixby. According to a report via Twitter, Lightfarm Studios and the Samsung-owned Cheil Agency showcased the three-dimensional Sam character on a website that has since been removed accessible exclusively through the Wayback Machine.
Judging from the images shared by Lightfarm Studios ahead of their deletion, Sam is a 3D virtual human. The virtual young woman has dark brown hair, blue eyes, and the distinctive look of a Pixar or Dreamworks animated heroine, minus the Samsung logo on her shirt. The character was created with a mix of Adobe and other editing software applied to photographs and digital paintings.
“The character, which already had a 2D existing version, underwent a complete redesign to return to social networks in a 3D version, much more modern, exciting, and with many more expressions, poses, and different textures,” Lightfarm explained in the deleted post. “Throughout the process, the team devoted itself to developing realistic materials, mainly for the character’s hair and clothing, so that Sam appeared aesthetically pleasing. Sam was an incredible partnership between the Cheil Agency and Lightfarm, and we are thrilled to be part of this project!”
The rapid disappearance from Sam on the Lightfarm website and the absence of an announcements from Samsung suggests that the character is either in development or is part of an idea which was never intended to be released in the current version. We’ve reached out Samsung and Lightfarm for clarification and will update as they can share the details of what transpired.
How Sam might fit into Samsung’s existing AI ecosystem is also unknown. Bixby has been Samsung’s voice assistant for a few years, including a complete revamp after the initial version failed to get off the ground. Samsung certainly doesn’t seem keen to give up on Bixby, performing a major overhaul of the interface at the end of last year to reduce the space Bixby takes up on the screen and added suggestions for what the user might like to do based on trends and previous user activity. More recently, Samsung updated Bixby’s Indian features, localizing recommendations and adding an Indian version of English to its languages.
Sam’s appearance, premature or not, does make the rumor that Samsung planned to make Google Assistant the default voice assistant for its phones appear even less likely. The departure of Adam Cheyer, Viv Labs co-founder and Samsung vice president leading Bixby development, the shutdown of Bixby Vision and reassignment of the Bixby developer marketing team seemed to spell doom for Bixby before Samsung expanded Bixby’s presence to new phones and launched the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live earbuds. The other reason to suspect Sam won’t replace Bixby is as simple as the name. A single syllable name that is also a very common sound used in other words would make a very poor activation term for a voice assistant. Whatever Samsung’s plans for Sam, there’s probably no rush to delete Bixby from Galaxy phones.