As if the world of digital assistants wasn’t already crowded enough with Siri, Cortana, Google Now and a dozen or so less-known names, China’s Baidu has to come up with its own digital assistant — Duer.
Launched at the firm’s Baidu World Conference in Beijing earlier this week, the new digital assistant called “Duer” (translates as “Do Secretary”) is native to the Baidu Android search app pre-installed on Baidu smartphones all across China.
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Baidu is a leader in artificial intelligence research, and a notable rival to tech companies such Google, Apple and Facebook. Analysts point out that it is the only large non-U.S. firm seriously involved in AI research (there are, however, scores of smaller firms from all across the globe involved in AI). Management at Baidu clearly recognized some time ago that a top-flight virtual assistant was required to compete with Google, and Duer is the fruit of their efforts.
More on Baidu’s new digital assistant Duer
It looks like the new virtual assistant will apparently trace a path much like Google Now and voice search, also becoming integrated into Baidu’s other apps such as Maps and Nuomi, its group buying service.
The firm showed off its new AI at the Baidu World Conference, demonstrating how it was capable of recognizing images more reliably than humans and significantly better than the current technology available from either Microsoft and Google.
Duer allows Chinese users to order food and access other services directly via the app, and the firm noted it was making Duer’s voice control system part of its big internet of things push. Baidu announced it is developing Duer so it can be used to control “smart” devices in the home so they can connect to healthcare or other service providers.
Initial reactions to Duer have been positive, and analysts point out the potential applications for digital assistants are virtually limitless. Moreover, the use of digital assistants is growing rapidly, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.