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TV firms rush into AI-ready sector

By Fan Feifei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-17 13:19

Watching television in the digital era has just got a lot easier. Chinese TV manufacturers have ushered in the era of intelligent TVs as more and more affluent consumers are pursuing a smarter, high-end lifestyle.

Industry insiders said speech recognition technology plays a vital role in boosting the development of artificial intelligence-enabled TV sets, and the competition will be fiercer with technological advancements and innovation.

Baofeng Group Co Ltd, a Beijing-based internet entertainment and technology company, is betting big on the AI-enabled TV. Feng Xin, its chief executive officer, said the company will concentrate on its TV business in the next year, which means its previous investments in virtual reality and online video markets will slow down.

Baofeng has launched its latest AI-enabled TV7 at 2,999 yuan ($477). TV7 can be turned on immediately when the user calls the name of its AI assistant-Baofeng Big Ears-instead of using the remote control. The 55-inch TV can listen to and understand users' commands using its speech recognition capacity, and recommend TV programs according to users' age, gender and preference.

"We have carried out strategic cooperation with iQiyi.com, a Chinese online streaming video service provider, to purchase its video content," said Liu Yaoping, CEO of Baofeng TV, the TV arm of Baofeng Group, adding users could enjoy more than 12,000 films and over 2,400 TV series.

Experts said as the scale of AI-enabled TVs continuously expands, Al function is becoming a standard configuration in TV domain.

"After two years of fast development, the AI-powered TV industry has stepped into a mature period and human-machine interaction has become more important. Along with more TV makers jumping into the industry, the competition will continue and be more intense," said Liu Buchen, an independent researcher in the home appliances sector.

China sold 47.52 million television sets last year, down 6.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest decrease since 2003, according to a report from domestic home appliance market monitor All View Cloud. AVC said the TV industry is expected to rebound this year, with sales ascending to 48.98 million units, up 3.1 percent year-on-year.

Traditional TV manufacturers such as TCL Corp, Sichuan Changhong Electronic Co Ltd and Hisense Group have stepped up efforts to enter the AI-powered TV market.

Changhong has produced TVs that can comprehend semantic nuances and distinct features of each voice, memorize users' preferences and viewing habits, and then come up with recommendations to suit the users at any given time.

The TV giant is focusing on the deep integration of AI and TV. "Robotics, machine learning, human-machine interaction and computing applications have been part of our focus. Artificial intelligence is just the tip of the iceberg," said Li Jin, general manager of Changhong.

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