Baidu gets serious about smart homes with Raven Tech
Chinese internet giant Baidu, often regarded in the west as the ‘Chinese Google’ given its search dominance in the country, has just become similar to Google in another way: it’s getting serious about smart homes. Baidu has purchased smart home specialists, start up Raven Tech, for an undisclosed sum, and will integrate it into the company’s current artificial intelligence (AI) research.
Get a run down on Raven Tech’s ‘Project Flow’ below
Raven Tech will become part of Baidu’s Duer smart home digital assistant unit, and the acquired company’s CEO, Cheng Lu, will head the division up. The company has 60 employees and was “an alumni of the Microsoft Venture Accelerator and Y Combinator” according to VentureDeal.com founder and analyst Donovan Jones.
Baidu’s share price is up by 13%, year-to-date
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
Baidu can afford to take its time developing a voice-activated digital assistant. It’s the major player in Chinese internet with a daunting 80.80% market share. This gives it a competitive advantage in designing an AI which will have, as probably its most used function, search capabilities.
The Chinese market for voice-assisted AIs is immature compared to its western counterpart anyway – a huge proportion of Chinese internet use comes through smartphones, so figuring out how connected homes fit into that is a task in itself.
But, even though Baidu’s AI might not be competing with the likes of Amazon’s Alexa – and certainly not in the near future – the company is working diligently to corner a market that, eventually, will be enormous – remember, there are over a billion people in China, and (if statistics are to be believed) they like tech even more than their European and American peers.
Dominion holds Baidu in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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