Samsung Unpacked barely featured a mentioned of this year's big tech buzzword – AI, but the tech giant says it's "deeply developing" ways of integrating the tech into the best Samsung phones, and its tablets, watches and earbuds.
In a post-Unpacked roundtable interview, Junho Park, Samsung's VP, Director of Global Product Planning, said: "We are deeply developing this generative AI stuff. For example, [speaking through] wireless earbuds is a good way to communicate. It doesn’t require any screen, so it’s a good place for generative AI."
When asked about other potential examples of how Samsung is integrating AI into its consumer tech, Junho Park added: "Our S Pen is a great tool to create, like a magic wand. There are many things that can initiate generative AI and we’re deeply collaborating [on] how to make a consistent generative AI through [Galaxy] Watch, earbuds, smartphone and tablet. We’re working on tangible [solutions]. Stay tuned.”
So while Samsung, like Apple at WWDC 2023, was relatively coy about explicitly mentioning AI at its latest Unpacked event, it's clear that the company is working on integrating generative AI – the specific field that ChatGPT and Midjourney have brought into the mainstream – into its tech hardware.
Back in May, Samsung was rumored to be working on an in-house generative AI platform, but only for its own employees. That's because Samsung was reportedly forced to ban ChatGPT use after an employee leak, a concern that may also have resulted in Apple's rumored development of Apple GPT, another in-house AI chatbot.
But what Samsung is talking about here is building generative AI – which is currently mostly an online experience – into on-device experiences to bring new powers to our portable tech. For example, we've already heard about AI-powered neurohacking headphones that track your brain waves to help you focus, and Samsung clearly thinks generative AI has a place in the best wireless earbuds space.
The tech giant has also been one of the pioneers of using generative AI in smartphone cameras, with the furore around the Galaxy S23 Ultra's allegedly fake moon photos being an obvious example. But this is one of the first times Samsung has explicitly spoken about "tangible solutions" coming to its whole Galaxy range – so that could make its next Unpacked event a whole lot more interesting.
Analysis: AI takes the baton from plateauing hardware
The July 2023 edition of Samsung Unpacked was pretty underwhelming, partly because most of its hardware announcements – the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, Galaxy Z Flip 5, Galaxy Watch 6 and Galaxy Tab S9 – were all mostly leaked ahead of the event.
But it also reflected a genuine plateauing of hardware innovation. Foldables have matured – which is why Apple needs to get involved quickly – and smartphones, tablets and the best smartwatches have barely changed (externally, at least) in the past five years.
The rise of on-device generative AI, though, represents an opportunity to give us the new "magic wand" features that Samsung's Junho Park mentioned in his post-Unpacked roundtable. Clearly, it's a bit soon for them to be the centerpiece of an Unpacked event, but Samsung has now hinted that they're coming soon.
This push is also because Samsung, one of the world's biggest makers of memory chips and semiconductors, is fighting to be one of the top players in AI-focused chips for computers and phones. And that's ultimately good news for Samsung fans, who should start to see the fruits of this generative AI push appear in their tech soon.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.