Samsung turns smartphone into smart speaker

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has developed a simple AI (smart) speaker that uses a smartphone.

The AI speaker, “Aurora,” is not equipped with a processing unit, microphone or other components necessary for an AI speaker and uses a smartphone instead. Therefore, it can be manufactured at a low cost, according to Samsung.

The AI speaker is realized by (1) the main unit of the Aurora, (2) smartphone, (3) smartphone application and (4) Bluetooth speaker. It can also charge a smartphone.

“When the user comes back home, he or she inserts a smartphone to the Aurora and uses it as an AI speaker while charging the phone,” Samsung said.

A character showed on the smartphone display is projected, and the character floats in the air like a hologram. Based on how the user is speaking, the Aurora judges the emotion of the user and reacts accordingly. Currently, only one character is available, but the company expects to increase the number of characters.

The Aurora uses the smartphone’s microphone and camera as its microphone and camera and can be operated with gestures (e.g. scrolling an image). As a speaker, it uses either the smartphone’s speaker or the Bluetooth speaker.

If the Aurora is always recognizing images with a camera while communicating, its power consumption and heat generation are likely to be large. There are many holes on the top surface of the Aurora. When a smartphone is inserted into the Aurora, it may be difficult to release heat from the back side of the smartphone by heat conduction (through contact). The heat is probably released by natural air cooling.

Also, the directivity of microphone differs between smartphones and AI speaker, making it difficult to use a smartphone speaker unless the smartphone is designed to support the Aurora in advance.

“We actually used other companies’ AI speakers and realized that an AI speaker can be realized without a complicated system if a smartphone is used,” Samsung said.

It has been six months since Samsung started the development of the Aurora. The company has not yet decided when to release it or its price.

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