Baidu Teams with Logitech to Build Voice-Enabled Mouse
Baidu is working with Logitech to launch a voice-enabled mouse as part of a long-term partnership with the Chinese tech giant’s AI platform Baidu Brain. This is the first collaboration of its kind between Baidu’s open AI tech and a Western company like Logitech, which has headquarters in California and Switzerland, and comes even as Logitech has shifted away from voice-controlled remote controls.
The new Logitech Voice M380 Wireless Mouse includes a microphone and a button to activate it for people to dictate text in Chinese and half a dozen other languages. The idea is to put the content on a computer more quickly than typing, but without the need for a separate dictation program. The mouse’s AI can even translate the spoken language to English, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, or Thai and presumably back to Chinese. The mouse is only available in China, for now, costing 199 yuan or about $20. The mouse doesn’t use Baidu’s DuerOS platform or Xiaodu voice assistant, instead, it works through the Baidu Brain AI platform, first launched in 2016. That choice makes it easier for other companies like Logitech to incorporate the voice AI and will likely informal other products built through the partnership.
“We saw an opportunity to leverage the power of Baidu AI to bring fast, accurate speech recognition to our customers and the result is pure magic—a mouse that allows you to instantly start dictating with your voice at the click of a button,” Logitech general manager of the creativity and productivity business group Delphine Donne-Crock said in a statement. “We are thrilled to tap into Baidu’s AI superpower for the launch of Logitech Voice M380, and we look forward to collaborating on future products and solutions that unleash everyone’s productivity and creativity in the digital world.”
That Logitech is building the voice-enabled mouse and will likely build others in China is notable because of its shift away from voice elsewhere. Logitech pulled its’ Alexa-enabled remote control last summer after only a year on the market, offering a trade-in to a less voice-focused option. Still, the Chinese market is a very different beast from the U.S. or even Europe. The new mouse will face competition from Baidu rival Xiaomi and its Mi Smart Mouse, which uses the XiaoAI voice assistant to give indirect voice control of the computer through the mouse’s microphone, even answering questions with info the computer may have readily available and offering smart home device control.
Baidu’s AI work is incredibly valuable, as its Smart Living Group (SLG), which encompasses DuerOS and Xiaodu smart devices, has been valued at $2.9 billion as recently as this fall. Baidu Brain is not a part of SLG but has been incorporated into devices built by many other companies within China. Logitech could reap huge dividends in its new partnership, a unique one from Baidu’s standpoint.
“Baidu Brain is an AI foundation to bridge software and hardware. It comes from years of Baidu AI development and deployment and serves not only Baidu innovations, but also the entire industry as an open platform,” Baidu vice president for AI development Tian Wu said.”We believe Baidu AI will help Logitech strengthen the leadership in peripherals, change people’s lifestyle and way of working, improve efficiency and enable smooth communication for people with language barriers.”