Baidu Upgrades DuerOS Voice Platform and Hits 400M Device Milestone
Chinese tech giant Baidu revealed the latest version of its voice assistant, DuerOS 5.0, today at its annual event Baidu Create in Beijing. It also added three new DuerOS-powered devices to its Xiaodu smart speaker product line.
The latest iteration of DuerOS includes a suite of improvements with two notable new features which will allow the assistant to interact more intelligently with users. One being that DuerOS powered devices such as the Xiaodu smart speaker line, will now be capable of continuous conversation. Users will no longer need to repeat the wake word for every command, thanks to what Baidu calls a “full-duplex” mode. Another featured improvement in DuerOS 5.0 is that it makes it possible for Xiaodu devices to understand in real time when to reply and follow through on commands, and when not to respond or react to users. The point of the change is to make the conversation with the device flow more naturally, without needing to pause for response and break up a series of commands.
The three new Xiaodu smart speakers all offer a notably diverse range of features, rather than simply being more or less complex versions of each other. The King Kong device features a built-in screen projector and infrared receiver, while the Xiaodu at Home 1C4G is a portable system that can work as a mobile hotspot and read nano-SIM cards, while the new Play device is tailored toward younger people. All of the devices start at about $28, making the features, rather than the cost, the deciding factor in what to buy, not to mention encouraging people to buy more than one.
Baidu played up just how widespread DuerOS already in their presentation, pointing out that more than 400 million devices now support the platform. It is important to note though, that this number just shows how widespread the platform is, not how many people are using it. The best comparison is how Google Assistant is available on more than a billion devices, more than ten times the number of Alexa-enabled devices, but the percentage of active users is likely to be much more competitive. Still, the rapid increase in the number of DuerOS devices is an important aspect of Baidu’s plans for the platform, especially in dominating the market in China.