SAN JOSE, Calif. — Kun Jing wants to enable any embedded system in China to listen to and speak Mandarin. He aims to make Baidu’s DuerOS a kind of Android for natural-language cloud services.
“Our goal is to have every chip maker pre-install our software,” said Jing, general manager of Baidu’s DuerOS group, in an interview with EE Times. “We want every device to have voice capability.” He noted that the free DuerOS code can add value to an otherwise commodity Wi-Fi chip.
So far, ARM, Conexant, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Realtek, RDA Microelectronics, and one undisclosed chip vendor plan to support DuerOS. They are among about 100 partners that include systems, software, and content companies.
Realtek, RDA, and the unnamed chip partner will offer so-called lightweight chip sets. So far, the RDA 5981, a 40-nm Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip with an ARM Cortex M4 processor, is the only chip shipping with the DuerOS SDK pre-installed.
Smartphones, such as an HTC handset shipping now, will run DuerOS on versions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. Intel is working with Lenovo on a smart speaker that will ship later this summer.
Jing held up an RDA chip as an example for pre-installing DuerOS. (Images: Baidu)
As many as 30 DuerOS products are in the works, including smartphones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, and speakers from OEMs such as Haier, HTC, Vivo, and Harman. A TV with voice-search capabilities shipped in March, and a smart speaker shipped in May.
“Right now, it’s all premium partners we work with closely to port and optimize our software for their chip sets,” said Jing.
At a Beijing event on July 4, Baidu officially launched its DuerOS Open Platform which lets developers add to its set of 100 different capabilities. The search giant claims its natural-language recognition has a 97% accuracy rate.
Despite its name, DuerOS “is not a traditional operating system, but a cloud service client that supports a wide range of OSes such as FreeRTOS, ARM Mbed, Linux, and iOS,” said Jing. (Amazon takes a similar approach with its Alexa voice service.)
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