Xiaomi Updates XiaoAI Voice Assistant with Child’s Voice, Simultaneous Translation
Chinese tech giant Xiaomi revamped its XiaoAI voice assistant with a new child’s voice and upgraded capabilities. Xiaomi chief Lei Jun debuted Xiao AI’s new features in a speech for the tenth anniversary this month, celebrating the voice assistant’s growing use.
One of the biggest updates to Xiao AI is carrying out multiple tasks with one command. It’s basically the Xiao AI version of Alexa and Google Assistant’s routines. Xiaomi refers to the feature as “N things,” but otherwise is the same concept of a single command adjusting multiple smart devices and other tasks. Xiaomi has also made its translation feature more efficient and able to perform real-time translations. The voice assistant will be able to listen and translate at the same time, a bit like watching the UN, where you hear the original speaker slightly musted in the background and the person speaking the translation over them. Both of those upgrades are reflections of Xiao AI becoming more proactive overall. Asking for information will prompt relevant follow-up questions about other commands. For instance, if you ask about the weather and it’s very warm in the home, the voice assistant will ask if you want to turn on the air conditioner. The AI will collect information about how people use connected smart devices to develop responses and follow-up ideas.
The other major addition to Xiao AI is a new voice called Puff. The new voice sounds younger and is designed to make children more comfortable interacting with the voice assistant. When in this mode, the voice assistant uses simpler words and tries to speak on their level. According to Xiaomi, the Puff voice mode also automatically filters content, limiting itself to child-friendly information and activities. Puff has the same name as the Chinese term for a profiterole, with connotations of sweetness. It’s the same approach to naming voices as the male “green onion” voice and the “honey” and “jasmine” female voices.
Xiao AI’s Growth
According to Xiaomi’s second-quarter report, there are 78.4 million monthly active users of Xiao AI. That’s up from 70.5 million in the first quarter and a 57.1% increase from last year. XiaoAI is limited to China, but that massive market has plenty of competition, with Huawei, Baidu, and other tech mainstays pushing against Xiaomi and each other. Xiaomi has found ways to expand the presence of its voice assistant both through its intrinsic features and incorporating it into a growing list of smart devices.
In May, the company revealed the XiaoAI Art Speaker, a metal-bodied, entry-level smart speaker similar to the Apple HomePod, not long after the XiaoAI Touchscreen Pro 8 smart display. The company then released a smartwatch, likely modeled on the Apple Watch, and there’s a new mouse with XiaoAI inside. The child’s voice also has plenty of specialized devices. Most recently, Xiaomi launched a mobile device for children with a design mimicking the Nintendo Game Boy portable video game system from the 1980s called the Xiaomi Al Ping Q, and the voice assistant can speak through the company’s new electric scooter for kids.