Baidu Unveils Upgraded Baidu Brain AI and Smart Devices

Chinese tech giant Baidu showcased its latest creations at its yearly Baidu World conference. Much of the broad array of new products are powered by the new and improved Baidu Brain AI platform revealed at the same time, including robotic vehicles and the first smart television controlled with the Xiaodu voice assistant.

Smart Thinking

Baidu’s centerpiece of the event was its new robotic car, built with Baidu’s Apollo AI driving program. Apollo is embedded in the vehicle and is able to improve how well it performs not only in driving but in communications and interactions with passengers. Baidu has plans for automated taxis and other autonomous vehicles and is at the point of demonstrating them at a larger scale than most of its rivals. On the more domestic front, Baidu’s Xiaodu voice assistant has a few new homes, including its first smart television. The 86-inch TV is built with as much advanced tech as could be crammed within, including Xiaodu running the whole thing through voice and gesture commands. Xiaodu is also popping up in a new smart display and active noise-canceling headphones.

On the quirkier side is the new Xiaodu Intelligent Dictionary Pen, which can spell, define, and translate words a user traces over. It’s closer to the voice-enabled mouse Baidu built with Logitech than the more visually impressive robotic car, but still a notable demonstration of Xiaodu’s features. Voice search also had a starring role at the event, where Baidu shared how the Baidu app’s 580 million monthly active users can use their voice to search for things in a broad array of Chinese and English dialects and accents, even mixing the two together.

“AI is the combination of technology and feeling,” Baidu CEO Robin Li said at the event. “The value of the technology is that everyone can feel the changes brought by it.”

Brain Gain

The Baidu Brain AI platform has come a long way since it first launched in 2016. The 7.0 version introduced at the event is far more powerful even than its most recent iteration, thanks in part to the new version of the Kunlun AI chip. The second-generation Kunlun chip is as much as three times more powerful while reducing how much power it consumes. It’s the chip that processes the speech recognition, natural language processing, and other AI elements of the devices powered by the Brain platform. The new setup is specially designed to be easy for developers to integrate into all kinds of hardware and software. Baidu hopes the streamlined learning curve will encourage more people and companies to experiment and invest in building on the platform.

“AI technology is growing increasingly complex, and integrated innovation has made AI more powerful,” Baidu CTO Haifeng Wang said at the conference. “As AI technology plays an expanding role in a wider range of industries and drives a new era of technological revolution and industrial transformation, it is increasingly important to lower the threshold for different real-world applications and to increase accessibility to AI development platforms.”


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