S

tep aside Alexa and Siri, a new digital assistant is taking over the Internet: Samsung Sam. A batch of 3D rendered images of a virtual woman went viral over the weekend, with millions swarming around the latest virtual human to appear online. The only catch? Samsung didn't officially make Sam, or even acknowledge her. 


A collection of 3D renderings and sketches of the character gained international attention after someone found them on the website of Brazillian design studio, Lightfarm. Lightfarm created a draft of the theoretical virtual assistant in collaboration with a marketing agency owned by Samsung, called ‘Cheil’. Check them out:

Photo by Lightfarm

Despite the design quality of the renderings, the partnership seemed to reach a short-lived conclusion as a draft, with the images sitting passively on the Lightfarm website for a week. That is, until someone discovered her, sharing her photos to Twitter. 


Sam immediately went viral. 

Photo by Lightfarm

With her piercing blue eyes and bob haircut, Samsung Sam looks as if Pixar recreated Flo from Progressive as a virtual assistant. Whereas the actress who plays Flo will eventually grow out of her character and Progressive will be forced to retire her human image, Sam will never age or die and has the potential to be a brand spokesperson for Samsung indefinitely. 


Samsung Sam’s viral success illustrates people’s desire for more virtual humans, even fully branded ones. Now, people are even speculating whether or not Sam could replace Samsung’s current AI assistant, the faceless and forgettable Bixby.


Virtual assistants, such as Siri, and virtual influencers, such as Miquela or FN Meka, continue to grow in popularity as the need for more captivating and humanized digital experiences grows. 


While Sam may not be a confirmed creation of Samsung (yet!), Samsung has a long history of innovating in the virtual influencer space. In 2019, Samsung partnered with Brud’s Lil Miquela for a multi-month #TeamGalaxy campaign, placing their latest Galaxy phone in the coveted mirror-selfie spot of the Miquela storyline. 


Taking Galaxy even further, Samsung worked with The Diigitals’ Shudu Gram in a beautifully architected campaign to associate their technology with the innovation of virtual influencers. All considered, it should not surprise you to see a subsidiary studio of Samsung experimenting with virtual personas, as it’s in Samsung’s DNA.


Samsung, too, has a history of over-selling virtual humans. At CES 2020, Samsung’s NEON leveraged significant, digital smoke and mirrors to pitch a virtual human assistant future. Despite the pieced together illusion of an in-progress virtual human future, tech media still bought in, effectively picking NEON as the fan-favorite of the event. While NEON’s tech is still early days, the potential, and interest in, fake humans is real, with Samsung’s CES presentation validating virtual humans as powerful storytelling devices.

Considering Samsung’s experimental history in creating virtual humans, with some campaigns hitting and others near-missing, one should ponder whether or not Samsung will step up and elevate the Sam character beyond her current state as an unverified render with viral potential. In our opinion, Samsung needs to act quickly and bring Sam to life in an official capacity while the window of opportunity sits wide open.


Even if Sam isn’t technically “official” yet, Samsung Sam brings a fresh face to the table and begs us to ask the increasingly obvious question: when will Apple and Amazon elevate their virtual assistants into virtual humans?  


What would Siri or Alexa look like?

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