Baidu’s new robot smart speakers are nothing like Amazon’s Echo

Chinese creators Baidu are diversifying the booming smart speaker market with their own unique additions.

Baidu have earned a reputation for having built one of the first deep dive artificial intelligence systems. But they’re only now putting it into their first product with a series of smart speakers that look like no others.

Baidu unveiled 3 products in their ‘Raven’ series, Baidu purchased Raven Tech in February, at their annual world event, a smart speaker and two smart speakers that are also small robots capable of much more. The smart speaker that doesn’t act like a robot is the one we know the most about at the moment, and what we do know is intriguing.

The Raven H is the leading product for Baidu features voice control and music streaming as you’d expect, but it does other things a bit differently. For a start its LED display touch controller can be removed from its base plate and control the base from anywhere, even still using voice control. Not just that, using the detachable controller you can control any Raven compatible smart devices.

The Raven’s intelligent AI goes further than most existing systems. As an example of its power Baidu say if you ask the speaker what time a football match is on the speaker won’t just tell you, it will then ask if you want a reminder. If you say yes it will set an alarm and can even turn your TV on automatically before the match starts.

Raven Tech founder who is now general manager of intelligent hardware units at Baidu, Cheng (Jesse) Lyu said: “Humans and machines have been interacting with one another for years, but Raven H aims to create a world in which this interaction is seamless. The system, equipped with Baidu’s superior voice technology, DuerOS, provides users with an unprecedented level of understanding from a smart device. It’s adjustable design lets its user move through their home or workspace, while remaining connected to both the Raven H system and their personal world.”

Also at Baidu World, Baidu debuted two additional Raven series products. The second Raven series product, raven R, is the world’s first automated six-axis robot with emotional intelligence. Building on features of raven H, raven R has six human-like “joints” that allow it to move flexibly following a user’s command, and express emotions to enhance the interactive experience.

The third member of the Raven series line-up is a concept AI Home Robot, raven Q. While still in development, raven Q will eventually integrate multiple technologies such as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), computer vision, voice recognition and natural language processing.

Whilst the Raven R and Q have some way to go yet the Raven H will be available for purchase next month for RMB 1,699 or roughly $256.

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