Mobvoi ramps up artificial intelligence efforts in China

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Mobvoi, the Chinese artificial intelligence startup backed by Google and Volkswagen, launched a chatbot on Tuesday that can connect with voice-activated smart home devices, as the company ramps up its efforts to turn from a niche player to being the future Amazon Alexa or Google Home in China. The Beijing-based startup founded in 2012 by a group of former Google engineers sees smart homes as one of the top priorities to leverage its voice recognition and natural language processing technology after receiving a US$180 million investment from German auto maker Volkswagen earlier this month. Smart homes are seen by technology giants around the world as one of the key directions for the application of artificial intelligence in people's everyday life. In the United States, Alexa, the robotic voice assistant behind Amazon's Echo has already allowed people to dim bedroom lights and play song lists through speech. In China, online search giant Baidu recently acquired a Chinese start-up that developed an artificial intelligence-based voice assistant to push further into smart home devices.