Mobvoi, the Google-backed AI company that first developed Chinese language voice recognition, has released a chatbot that can communicate with voice-activated smart home devices.
The new product, which leverages Mobvoi’s advances in voice recognition and artificial intelligence, is envisioned to facilitate human-machine interaction in China much like Apple’s Siri personal assistant, or Alexa from Amazon.
Li Zhifei, founder and CEO of Mobvoi, believes that the chatbot will help the company develop AI for the end user, with interactive hardware and software products.
“Our company aspired to define the next generation of human-machine interaction since day one,” he said.
Like familiar personal assistants, Mobvoi’s chatbot will recognize and execute commands such as conducting a search for the user (‘find me a restaurant’) and controlling smart home devices (‘dim the lights’).
A 2016 study highlighting the importance of voice recognition in personal applications of artificial intelligence said that by the end of next year, personal assistants will be able to recognize individuals by face and voice across channels and partners.
Mobvoi also launched a new smart speaker, Tichome, that will act as a control center for smart home devices. Tichome is expected to run the new chatbot and will be available commercially this autumn.
Mobvoi got its start as the provider of the voice search service on China’s most popular messaging service, WeChat. The Chumenwenwen voice search application is also the official voice service provider for Android Wear in China.
The company moved into wearables and smart watches with Ticwatch, which runs on the Mobvoi Ticwear operating system, showcasing the company’s dual focus on hardware and software.
Last year, Mobvoi launched an automotive division with Ticauto, an in-vehicle voice system with applications in navigation, vertical searches, messaging, and in-vehicle entertainment. The company also introduced the Ticmirror, a voice-controlled rearview mirror that also operates as a dashboard camera and runs on the Ticeye advanced driver assistance system.
The company’s successful foray into automotive technology led to last week’s announcement of a joint partnership with Volkswagen that netted Mobvoi $180 million USD. In return, Mobvoi will develop AI and voice recognition applications for vehicles. The Ticmirror may be offered in new Vokswagen vehicles, along with additional Mobvoi applications to be developed.