Alibaba Doubles Smart Speaker Sales, Updates AliGenie Software and is Headed for Chinese Cars
Alizila is reporting that Alibaba has now sold 2 million of its Tmall Genie smart speakers, making it the market share leader in China. Voicebot earlier reported that Alibaba announced it had sold 1 million of the devices in 2017 after its launch in July. The 2 million figure comes at the end of the first quarter of 2018 so it looks like the company may be on a million-device per quarter run rate.
The company has also updated the AI platform to AliGenie 2.0. This is the AI that handles voice recognition like Amazon’s Alexa, but also has other features like a newly added computer vision capability. Alizila reports:
“Alibaba Group has launched its newest human-computer interaction platform, called AliGenie 2.0, enabling ‘sight’ so that the platform can do everything from reading bedtime stories to children in Chinese to recognizing different medicine bottles.”
The new capability appears to integrate Tmall Genie with a smartphone with some really interesting results. I have no Mandarin language skills, but was able to identify some interesting features in this YouTube video released by Alibaba. The ambition for Tmall Genie and AliGenie clearly extends far beyond its smart speaker origins.
Tmall Genie Also Coming to Cars in China
Bloomberg is also reporting news that Alibaba is bringing its Tmall Genie smart speakers to Mercedes Benz, Audi and Volvo cars in China. Voicebot reported last week that Amazon was testing Echo Dot smart speakers in cars in India so the move by Alibaba is not surprising. Adding a smart speaker device is the fastest way to introduce voice assistants to cars given that it can take many years to integrate new technology into auto models.
Tmall Genie’s car integration may be limited initially but the plans include full telematics integration over time. In addition to accessing AliGenie’s general services, Bloomberg reports other expected car feature integration to include:
“Alibaba said it will enable drivers to check fuel levels, mileage, battery levels and engine status using voice controls. Beyond diagnostics, it’ll also cover door windows, air conditioning and other settings.”
This would be a full suite of features that you would normally only expect from an in-dash integration. Notably, there is no mention of entertainment options so the program may lack infotainment system integration.