Baidu partners with hardware maker Conexant to corner AI market

LAST week, Baidu announced big plans to work closely with audio and voice hardware manufacturer Conexant to expedite the adoption of its DuerOS AI platform to gain some much-needed ground in the increasingly competitive AI game.

When we think of AI, we think of software and machine learning algorithms within machines. Rarely do we ever make connections to the hardware housing the software, which in many cases turns to out to be just as important as the software. In recent years, offerings from Apple and Amazon have proven relying on software or cloud-end solutions alone would not help users solve their problems.

Baidu DuerOS with Conexant processor. Source: Baidu-Conexant

“The solution of hardware plus cloud will become the trend to help users easily access AI technology and services,” said a spokesperson from Baidu in an email with Tech Wire Asia.

Baidu’s tie-up with Conexant is designed to bring development kits and reference designs to device makers who want to begin implementing artificial intelligence technologies into their businesses or research.

Baidu will be integrating their proprietary DuerOS artificial intelligence software on Conexant’s 2-microphone and 4-microphone voice input processing solutions to bring high-quality far-field voice-enabled AI devices to consumers.

Baidu has long been a leader in artificial intelligence research in China, with a particular emphasis on natural language processing, which is closely related to the company’s work to create advanced translator and voice-enabled assistants. Back in May, the company announced its first home product, Xiaoyu, a child-centric smart assistant. This relationship with Conexant represents not only the company’s first general application product, but also a step towards making their system ubiquitous among a host of other products.

“Baidu has already accumulated lots of algorithm in natural language processing,” said the Baidu spokesperson.

“Right now, we need to convert these technology and research into real products used by millions of users every day. We hope the tie-up could facilitate the process, making Baidu AI services easier to use.”

SEE ALSO: Baidu launches its first commercial AI product, home robot Xiaoyu

The DuerOS does not come bundled with proprietary hardware, but is instead a kind of AI kit that comes with revenant technology that can be used by developers seeking to create their own AI-linked products. According to Baidu, the kits could be used to support mobile phones, TVs, speakers and other forms of hardware that will come to play a part in the AI future.

Baidu DuerOS Speaker with Conexant processor. Source: Baidu-Conexant

DuerOS is markedly different from other AI competitors because of its focus on software, but also Baidu’s research in NPL, which provides a ton of local Chinese data to contextualize any inputs, which in turn help make the software’s responses more accurate.

“We built [the] Duer Speaker to focus on some unique scenarios from Chinese uses,” Baidu said.

While artificial intelligence has become more widespread, producing an in-house software could be incredibly expensive. Baidu’s DuerOS gives smaller enterprises the opportunity to explore the capabilities of AI-integrated products. Saleel Awsare from Conexant notes the readily available software could help more third-party manufacturers bring a host of voice-enabled AI devices to the market.

“Conexant brings a valuable asset to Baidu and third-party product developers looking to create innovative applications for the DuerOS AI platform,” Baidu Duer Business Unit general manager Kun Jing said.

“Voice interface is a critical part of DuerOS and we are committed to working closely with Conexant to quickly grow the DuerOS ecosystem by offering product developers a solution to help them quickly fulfill consumer demand for top-performing AI-infused devices.”

SEE ALSO: China’s Baidu bets big on AI to increase competitiveness