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Apple's Siri chief now building connected device platform at Samsung

Samsung's SAMI would link all kinds of devices to build more useful services

By James Niccolai
November 8, 2013 09:14 PM ET

IDG News Service - The engineer who oversaw development of Apple's Siri technology is now at Samsung building an online service for linking together the "Internet of things."

Luc Julia, a vice president at Samsung's innovation lab in Menlo Park, Calif., demonstrated the project, called SAMI, or the Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions, at a conference north of San Francisco on Friday.

Still in its early stages, SAMI aims to be a platform that can collect data from any connected device, including wearable computers like the Fitbit, and make that data available for consumption by other devices.

It's designed for use by companies that make wearable computers, home automation equipment and automobiles, as a common platform they can use to build additional services for their customers.

To demonstrate the service, Julia showed how SAMI might be used to build a personal health service. He donned a Fitbit and a wearable heart monitor, weighed himself on an Internet-connected scale, then ran around the stage a few times by way of putting himself through an exercise routine.

He showed how data from the devices, which is normally viewed in standalone apps, can be collected by SAMI, processed, and then presented to the user in the form of a single app.

In Siri-like fashion, he also asked the service, "SAMI, how am I doing?" The app told him he had reached his exercise goal for the day. The idea is that it could do more sophisticated analysis, such as telling him when he needs to train harder or take a break.

Julia showed the technology at the MEMS Executive Congress in Napa, California, an event for companies that make sensors for smartphones and other devices.

A big benefit of SAMI, according to Julia, is that it will be able to collect and store data from any device in its original format. Samsung will "normalize" the data and make it available as a feed -- he called it a firehose, using the Twitter metaphor -- that can be consumed by other applications.

"We're doing this normalization and delivering the data through an API [application programming interface], because people don't want to learn all the APIs for all the individual products," he said.

Julia was director of Apple's Siri project for about 10 months until he left Apple last year. It's easy to see similarities between the projects: Both collect data from a variety of services and deliver them through a single app. But while Siri is specific to Apple, Samsung wants its platform to be used by many companies. Julia didn't give a lot of technical details but said Samsung wants it to be as "open" as possible, and it's not interested in defining standards.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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