Baidu's Voice Exec Speaks Out

Release time:2017-07-17
author:
source:Rick Merritt
reading:263

 Kun Jing wants to enable any embedded system in China to listen to and speak Mandarin. He aims to make Baidu’s DuerOS a kind of Android for natural-language cloud services.

“Our goal is to have every chip maker pre-install our software,” said Jing, general manager of Baidu’s DuerOS group, in an interview with EE Times. “We want every device to have voice capability,” he said, noting the free DuerOS code can add value to an otherwise commodity Wi-Fi chip.

So far ARM, Conexant, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Realtek, RDA Microelectronics and one undisclosed chip vendor plan to support DuerOS. They are among about 100 partners that include systems, software and content companies.

Realtek, RDA and the unnamed chip partner will offer so-called lightweight chip sets. So far, the RDA 5981, a 40nm Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip with an ARM Cortex M4 processor, is the only chip shipping with the DuerOS SDK pre-installed.

Smartphones such as an HTC handset shipping now will run DuerOS on versions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. Intel is working with Lenovo on a smart speaker that will ship later this summer.

Jing held up an RDA chip as an example for pre-installing DuerOS. (Images: Baidu)
Jing held up an RDA chip as an example for pre-installing DuerOS. (Images: Baidu)

As many as 30 DuerOS products are in the works, including smartphones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners and speakers from OEMs such as Haier, HTC, Vivo, and Harman. A TV with voice search capabilities shipped in March, and a smart speaker shipped in May.

“Right now it’s all premium partners we work with closely to port and optimize our software for their chip sets,” said Jing.

Baidu officially launched DuerOS at a Bejing event July 4 with about 100 different capabilities. It claims its natural language recognition has a 97 percent accuracy rate.

Despite its name, DuerOS, “is not a traditional operating system, but a cloud service client that supports a wide range of OSes such as FreeRTOS, ARM Mbed, Linux and iOS,” said Jing. (Amazon takes a similar approach with its Alexa voice service.)

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