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Visual recognition added to Alibaba smart speaker

By He Wei | | Updated: 2018-03-22 19:37
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Alibaba Group Holding has added a visual recognition function to its smart speaker Tmall Genie, marking the latest product-level demonstration of its push into artificial intelligence.

Using cameras as an input source, the device is able to detect and recognize objects and speak out instructions to users, thanks to machine learning technologies embedded in an updated homegrown operating system called Ali Genie FireEye.

Users can activate the visual function by scanning a QR code. They can then place the gadget on a plastic rack, and stand to experience capabilities that include the recognition of both static images and three-dimensional objects like books and fruits, said Qian Xue, general manager of Alibaba AI Lab.

The voice assistant now has "eyes" and no longer has to solely rely on voice command for input, she said Thursday at a product launch conference in Beijing.

The company would start the promotion of this product by teaming up with 12 Chinese publishers, under which 117 children's picture books can be recognized and transferred into audio files.

It also allows for the detection of medication labels and instructions for over 40,000 medicines, thanks to shared resources with AliHealth, Alibaba's health and medicine unit.

The company plans to penetrate into other realms such as electronic appliances, smart retail and senior care, and is on course to unveil capabilities like facial recognition in the future.

Like Amazon's Echo, the Tmall Genie speaker listens for your chosen wake word – the default is "Tmall Genie" – and then starts streaming your instructions and coming back with answers, information or actions based on your commands.

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