- Category: January 2018 - Trends and Predictions
Alibaba A.I. Labs, which leads the development of Alibaba's consumer artificial intelligent (AI) products, and MediaTek, a global fabless semiconductor company, announced a strategic collaboration in Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives, including smart home protocols, customized IoT chips and AI smart hardware, with the aim of fostering the development of a connected world in the IoT era.
Alibaba A.I. Labs is in general dedicated to exploring the next generation human-and-computer interaction and turning novel user experience into reality. The in-house R&D department focuses on the development of innovative AI applications across Alibaba's commerce ecosystem and provides AI solutions to Alibaba's clients and partners. With a world-class research team, Alibaba A.I. Labs focuses on both theoretical research and product commercialization in various areas, including speech recognition, natural language processing, voice print identification, deep learning, and computer vision. The Labs also focuses on developing AI products for consumers, including Tmall Genie, the first voice-controlled smart home assistant developed by the Labs.
"We are excited about partnering with MediaTek to explore collaboration in the IoT ecosystem. Our AI and cloud computing capabilities, along with MediaTek's cutting-edge technology in chip design, provide unique advantages to our connectivity solutions for smart homes, offering real benefits to consumers in China and paving the way to a more connected world through innovation," Miffy Chan, Head of Alibaba A.I. Labs said.
The two parties also announced the first Smartmesh connectivity solution in China that supports the latest many-to-many Bluetooth mesh technology in an effort to speed up the adoption of this technology in smart home settings.
The solution, which is based on the Labs' self-developed IoT protocol named IoTConnect and the Bluetooth chip co-developed by both parties, enables smart home devices to automatically pair with Tmall Genie, the Lab's first voice-controlled smart assistant, leading up to a Tmall Genie-controlled smart home ecosystem.
"The smart home market is undergoing tremendous growth as technologies advance. With MediaTek's strength in connectivity and baseband, computing and multimedia, coupled with Alibaba's leading advantages in cloud computing and AI, we are confident that the collaboration will mark a milestone in the development of the IoT era," Jerry Yu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Home Entertainment Business Group, MediaTek affirmed.
IoTConnect is an open connectivity protocol based on Bluetooth mesh standard for smart hardware and smart home appliance manufacturers. Smart devices using the protocol can be automatically paired with Tmall Genie. The protocol aims to promote unified connectivity standards among smart devices, and hence lower the cost in developing connected devices and foster the development of voice-controlled smart home ecosystem.
The Smartmesh solution supports the latest Bluetooth mesh networking and Bluetooth 5 functionality set up by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the body that oversees the development of Bluetooth standards. Customized Bluetooth SoCs (system-on-chip) - MT7581 and MT7583 - for the solution are featured with Bluetooth smart mesh technology, automatic pairing, fast connection and low-power consumption. The two SoCs will be ready for the market in the second half of this year.
The partnership comes on the heels of the successful collaboration on Tmall Genie, for which MediaTech provides chip technology support. Alibaba A.I. Labs launched the smart home assistant in July last year, with an aim to provide brand new interaction experiences for Chinese consumers. Over one million Tmall Genie devices were sold in China during Alibaba's Global Shopping Festival on November 11 last year.