raven-q | The Knowledge Dynasty

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It doesn’t look like it, but it’s China’s latest AI smart speaker

Image: baidu

Google Home and the Amazon Echo have new competition.

Baidu, which runs China’s most popular search engine, has produced the Raven H, a voice-activated speaker that runs on an artificial intelligence platform.

The Raven H is the first product in Baidu’s upcoming AI plan, following its acquisition in earlier this year of Beijing-based smart home startup, Raven.

If anything, the new speaker’s design looks like none of the competition, and appears to be able to flip up to face the user, when activated.

The speaker’s clean, Scandinavian lines are probably thanks to Swedish consumer electronics firm Teenage Engineering. It also includes audio hardware made by Danish company Tymphany.

It’ll show a grid of animated lights.

Image: baidu

Sleek volume buttons

Image: baidu

It’ll speak Chinese better, and hail you a cab.

Baidu, one of the country’s biggest dotcoms, may face stiff competition in the West, but it’s launching to a hungry and willing home market that hasn’t been well penetrated at all by the competition.

In part, that’s been aided by Google being blocked in the country, but Baidu’s gadgets are primed to speak better Chinese than the others.

Additionally, Baidu’s Raven H can already tap the company’s vast online resources, to play you music, read the news, tell you if it’s going to rain, and so on. And home ground advantage means it can plug into other domestic services such as Didi Chuxing — China’s Uber — to hail you a cab by voice.

At launch, the Raven H is already getting some real world user testing, thanks to an agreement with the InterContinental Hotels Group, to place 100 of the speakers in guest rooms. At the very least, that interaction with guests will only go toward training the speakers to be smarter, benefiting the rest of the network.

Here’s Baidu CEO, Robin Li, showing voice commands on the Baidu app, on an iPhone:

Coming next: AI home robots

The upcoming Raven R

Image: baidu

Baidu is going to follow up the smart speaker’s launch soon with a robot that’s based on the same AI platform.

Called the Raven R, it’ll come with six moveable joints that allow it to “express emotions” and move to respond to users’ commands.

Here’s a teaser it provided:

And following this, Baidu is also working on a home robot that will be able to see you, in addition to hearing you.

That one, the Raven Q, is expected to be able to move around the home, and possibly perform some home surveillance functions, while interacting with natural voice.

It’s still in concept phase, but it’s a show of Chinese companies already poised to leapfrog existing products we have on the market. And getting us one step closer to the future as imagined by The Jetsons.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/16/baidu-smart-speaker-raven-h/

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