Samsung Unveils Humanoid AI Chatbots at CES

Samsung unveiled its much anticipated Neon project at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday.

Developed by Samsung subsidiary STAR Labs, Neon generates realistic, human-like digital avatars, or as the company described them "a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence."

The strikingly human "neons" are designed to behave like real people who interact with users naturally -- no "hey Siri" or "Alexa!" commands, the company said. "Neons are not AI assistants," the company said in a statement. "Neons are more like us, an independent but virtual living being, who can show emotions and learn from experiences. Unlike AI assistants, Neons do not know it all, and they are not an interface to the internet to ask for weather updates or to play your favorite music." 

"There are millions of species on our planet, and we hope to add one more," Pranav Mistry, Neon CEO and head of STAR Labs, said in a statement. "Neons will be our friends, collaborators and companions, continually learning, evolving and forming memories from their interactions."

Mistry demonstrated the Neon project before a packed house at the CES event. The demo featured a Neon employee interacting with a neon, a very realistic virtual woman dressed in black. Neon's have the ability to show emotions and intelligence, Mistry said, adding that they can "connect and learn more about us, gain new skills, and evolve."

The South Korean company had been teasing a Neon release on social media and in early press releases for more than a month. The system is based on a proprietary platform called Core R3 (Reality, Realtime, Responsive) that generates what Samsung is calling "a new kind of life" comprising behavioral neural networks, evolutionary generative intelligence, and computational reality. The company said the platform is designed to ensure the integrity of data with state-of-the-art protocols. However, there's hardly any clarity on how the technology works and what it's based on. Also supporting the platform is a technology called SPECTRA, with which the company aims to improve Neon's capabilities in intelligence, learning, emotions, and memory.

"Neons will be our friends, collaborators, and companions," Mistry said, "continually learning, evolving, and forming memories from their interactions."

Currently in beta, Neon is set for release later this year. STAR Labs plans to provide early releases to a few business partners and consumers.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at