China’s First Smart Speaker Finds Its Own Voice

Nikki Diefenbach

CNBC has reported that Huawei may soon have its own voice assistant. This is according to the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, although they have not explicitly stated it will be English speaking. This software could be in direct competition with the two monoliths of voice assistant technology, Google and Amazon.

Google has controlled the Android smartphone portion of the market, while Amazon’s Alexa has led in the smart speaker field. Huawei already is using a voice assistant in Chinese only, called XiaoYi, operating in smart phones and the AI Cube, a smart speaker. Now they are taking their product to the world market.

According to Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, in an exclusive interview for CNBC,

> We are using our own in China, in (the) future we will also have our own outside of China. In the beginning, we are mainly using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa...We need more time to build our AI services ... Later we will expand this outside of China.

It was also previously reported in Tech2 that Huawei’s new voice assistant “will be based on Natural Language Understanding (NLU) which is able to interpret unstructured sentences from human input and allows the user to communicate despite mispronunciations, colloquialisms, and other quirks of speech...The new feature is also expected to solve one of the biggest problems that current voice assistant face. Users will no longer have to learn a precise phrase to achieve a desired outcome.”

Voice assistant technology integrated with a variety of hardware has been the domain of Amazon and Google outside of China and this move by Huawei may provide another option for users to interact with products.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What is your preferred voice assistant technology and why?

Q2. What attributes do you look for in voice assisted technologies?

Q3. What changes might this new competition bring to the voice assisted technology market?