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Google Invests in Chinese Voice Recognition Startup Mobvoi – Mirror Daily

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Mobvoi, a Chinese startup, has made it on Google’s radar, as a new report showed the Silicon Valley company has taken a significant minority stake in their search and voice recognition technology for mobile devices, albeit only for the Chinese language.

Google’s investment underlines the importance of how Chinese entrepreneurs are quickly evolving and putting out new and creative technologies for the domestic market. At the same time, it sheds light on Google’s practices of looking for ways to revamp the internet services it offers in the U.S.

According to a recent statement from Mobvoi, Google’s funding will advance the company’s plans of enhancing its “core artificial intelligence technologies,” design new products for the public based on AI, and explore robotics technologies.

The strategic partnership agreement was signed between the two companies earlier in 2015, establishing that Mobvoi was to provide speech recognition and search software for Google’s smartwatches. Details regarding the size or value of the investment were not revealed by either parts of the deal.

In the past, the flow of voice recognition applications was one-directional, crossing the Pacific from U.S. to the mainland, but the relationship has evolved, as the industry became a hot spot on both sides of the ocean.

This is not the first time Li Zhifei, CEO of Mobvoi and its founder, has had contact with the West – and with Google itself. Before returning to China in 2012 and starting his own company, Zhifei has earned his PhD in natural language processing and speech recognition in the U.S. and also worked at Google for two years.

Mr. Li gave a lot of the credit for being able to get funding to the Johns Hopkins University and his internship at Google. However, he thinks China is now developing its own real ecosystem with investors, a market and scale, an opportunity for a lot of tech startups to emerge.

Slow and steady wins the race, and that’s what Chinese hardware companies are going for; they are now entering the global market with a strong reputation for manufacturing cutting-edge technology.

Mobvoi, for example – or Chumenwenwen, in Chinese – has its own line of wearable devices, its top product being a smartwatch that can retain a backlog on orders on its own operating system. With Google’s help, Mr. Li hopes to move its voice search function toward on cars and robots, but for now, it’s directed at inquiries about local services and travel.
Image Source: Flickr

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