Samsung's Artificial Human Project 'NEON' Unlikely to Usher in Terminator Robots, But Might be Even Cooler
When we first read that Samsung Technology & Advanced Research Labs' (STAR Labs) NEON project would be unveiling an "artificial human" at the Consumer Electronics Show this month, we began hoping for a highly-sophisticated Terminator-type android. Then we realized that we were being short-sighted. Everything we've since seen about NEON, STAR Labs, and the patents held by Samsung CEO Pranav Mistry point to something that less likely to resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger kicking your door in and more likely to resemble something you might encounter on Star Trek's Holodeck.
What is certain is that Samsung's tease campaign has been successful in creating a conversation revolving around the as-yet unseen product and telling us what it is not.
So what is NEON? LetsGoDigital did a little digging into Samsung's latest patent applications and noted the following description of Samsung NEON:
Samsung NEON description: Entertainment services, namely, production of special effects including model-making services, computer-generated imagery and computer-generated graphics for the production of motion pictures, videos and movie trailers; augmented reality video production; creating computer generated characters; design and development of computer-modeled versions of human beings using computer animation for use in movies, television, internet and other applications; design and development of software for virtual characters; creating for others custom computer-generated imagery, animations, simulations and models used for entertainment.
Even given that rather vague description, it seems likely that NEON will be a mixed reality, interactive, animated humanoid image. If it's "NOT about Bixby," however, we're a bit pressed to know what it is about. Slashgear invoked Blade Runner 2049's (a year which is now closer to us than 1990) projected Artificial Human Joi, but we're thinking that NEON's size will likely be limited to device size. Can you honestly call an AR avatar "human-sized" if you're viewing it on a 5" screen? Seems tricky. It's far too optimistic to hope for a non-glasses/non-device-driven mixed reality humanoid at this point, so what we are hoping for is a glimpse of possibility: the first real iteration of an anthropomorphic, consumer-ready (read: inexpensive), and potentially customizable mixed-reality avatar.
If it's not that cool, then we'll just stick to changing Siri's accent every week and waiting for Joi.
Samsung will present on NEON at the Consumer Electronics Show next Monday. Watch Twitter for updates.