Baidu releases smart speaker with screen and home functions

On March 26, Baidu and Xiaoyu jointly held a product release conference in Beijing to release the first smart speaker with a screen, named the Duer Zaijia. Priced at 599 yuan ($96), it will start shipping on April 10.

Duer Zaijia release conference

Baidu‘s first smart speakers with screens are priced at 599 yuan ($96).

The Duer Zaijia was jointly developed by Baidu and Xiaoyu Zaijia. It is designed for home use and comes equipped with Baidu DuerOS. Compared to smart speakers without screens, it can display more content and information. With screen-enabled smart speakers, users can listen to music, subscribe to audio resources, chat, adjust smart home controls, watch movies, and conduct video calls.

The Duer Zaijia has a 7-inch screen with four color options: red, green, gray and black. The development team also conducted professional equilibrium tuning for optimal sound quality.

The Duer Zaijia provides an interactive experience designed by Don Lindsay, former Apple design director and current Duer Zaijia design partner. The former chief designer of Sonos also presided over the speakers’ design.

The Duer Zaijia features traditional Xiaoyu Zaijia product capabilities such as video calls, audio and video resources, Baidu Search and family cloud album. As a new AI product, however, the Duer Zaijia also has several new functions.

The Duer Zaijia has a variety of accessories. With the smart TV bar, the Duer Zaijia can be connected to the TV, serving as a TV set-top box. Other accessories include smart microphones, smart fitness equipment, plug-and-play devices and more.

Additionally, with the release of the Duer Zaijia, Baidu launched the Duer open platform. So far, the platform has attracted dozens of third-party developers, such as Linekong (a Chinese mobile game company), Guokr (a massive open online course platform) and Ping An Good Doctor (an online-to-offline healthcare servicing platform).

Ali and Xiaomi both released smart speakers last year and achieved a good market share through low-prices. At the press conference, Baidu Chairman and CEO Robin Li revealed that Duer Zaijia will be priced at 599 yuan ($96), showing Baidu’s determination to gain market share.

Xiaoyu Zaijia CEO Chenfeng Song said, “The battle of the smart speakers must be led by Baidu, because only Robin Li can set such a low price with such strong determination.”

Baidu is accelerating the development of AI hardware, and is determined to “fight a big battle” in the field of smart living.

According to Kun Jing, the general manager of Baidu Duer Business Unit, in 2018, Baidu partnered with Qualcomm, Xiaomi, Huawei, ARM and other upstream and downstream companies, and with Haier, Media, TCL and other leading manufacturers. In March this year, Baidu invested in three hardware companies, including Xiaoyu Zaijia.

On March 6, Baidu announced the establishment Smart Living Group, referred to as SLG. Qi Lu, Baidu Group president and COO serves as SLG general manager. This organization structure adjustment helps Baidu further accelerate development of smart devices through DuerOS.

On March 12, XGIMI, a projection TV manufacturer, received a 600 million yuan ($95 million) investment from Baidu, Jingwei China, MatrixPartners China, Sailing Capital, and Sichaun Wentou. Afterwards, Baidu became the second largest shareholder after XGIMI’s founding team.

On March 16, Baidu and Skyworth held a strategic cooperation conference. Coocaa, a Skyworth subsidiary that develops smart TVs, received a 1.055 billion yuan ($168 million) investment from Baidu. As its second largest shareholder, Baidu holds 11 percent of Coocaa stock. Baidu DuerOS is fully connected with Coocaa. Skyworth’s new intelligent TV models, namely the Q5, Q6 and Q7 series, will be equipped with the DuerOS system.

Baidu and Skyworth strategic cooperation conference

According to Jing, conversational AI products have been developing rapidly. Since its release last July, DuerOS has quickly become the industry leader. As of January 2018, the number of smart devices equipped with DuerOS reached 50 million, and the number of monthly active devices with DuerOS was over 10 million. Currently, DuerOS has over 160 partners and over 10,000 developers. DuerOS has answered more than 2.4 billion questions.

Jing said that Baidu will fight a big battle in the field of smart living. Baidu has always constructed the platform and ecosystem, but now it will combine AI software and hardware by investing in hardware companies. It is not hard to see from its organizational restructuring and continued investments in hardware companies that Baidu is determined to build DuerOS as the android system in the AI era.

This article originally appeared in NetEase and was translated by Pandaily.