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Samsung sends three AI start-ups to SXSW

Mar 07,2018
Top: Toonsquare, an app that can generate cartoons based on the user’s face and words. Bottom left: Aurora, a voice assistant that shows a 3-D holographic character. Bottom right: Gadget, an advertising platform that places ads in games as native objects. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]

Samsung Electronics will send three of its incubated start-ups to South by Southwest (SXSW) this week.

The start-ups are products of C-Lab, the company’s in-house incubator where select employees can work on their own ventures for a year.

The three teams heading to SXSW worked on products using artificial intelligence last year. They include Toonsquare, Aurora and Gadget.

Toonsquare is a mobile app that automatically makes comic strips based on sentences written by the user. The app is capable of making a cartoon character based on a photo of the user’s face. If the user writes a sentence in a cartoon chat box, the app will show the character in several poses and expressions that best suit the phrase. For example, the sentence “I love you” will show the user’s avatar crossing its fingers in the shape of a heart.

The developers of Toonsquare hope to turn the service into the “Instagram of cartoons.”

Aurora is a voice assistant that responds to a user not only through audio but also visually. That’s because the device is a transparent screen that can project a 3-D holographic character.

The hologram can make faces and gestures while answering the user’s requests. It can analyze and react to a user’s emotions.

Gadget is an advertising platform for online games. Most online or smartphone games show advertisements through pop-up messages or banners that take up a corner of the screen.

These ads frequently annoy players because they appear in the middle of a round, and it’s easy for users to discard them as spam.

Gadget offers a platform that helps ads meld in more naturally as part of the game. For example, the advertised good can appear as part of the background or a game item.

This method of advertising can also be customized according to the user.

“We’re seeing a lot of ideas using artificial intelligence technology to solve inconveniences in daily life,” said Lee Jai-il, Samsung Electronics’ vice president for the Creativity & Innovation Center, which oversees C-Lab projects.

SXSW is one of the world’s largest events for IT and entertainment companies to promote their latest products and technology in music, movies and interactive devices.

This year’s festival starts on Friday in Austin, Texas, and runs through March 18.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]