China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. plans to invest US$1.2 billion in the research and development of artificial intelligence, big data, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in the next four years, said the company’s chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing during a media interview.
The company plans to spend around US$1.5 billion on research and development on these promising technologies every year until 2021, or over 20% of its total research and development spending.
In addition, Yang pointed out that the company will partner with Google and Amazon.com on product development, as it plans to have its smartphone sales take 50% of its total revenues in the future from the current 30%.
Lenovo began focusing on artificial intelligence at the end of last year. In November 2016, it hired former Microsoft Research Asia’s deputy managing director Rui Yong as its senior vice president and chief technology officer to lead the effort.
In February, the company said in its annual report that it is currently exploring a number of fields including smart home appliance, smart office and smart healthcare as its future growth engines. Last month, it established an artificial intelligence lab headed by German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence’s senior researcher and project leader, Xu Feiyu.
Chinese technology giants have all jumped on the AI bandwagon in the past few years. Baidu founded the Institute of Deep Learning in 2013 to focus on image recognition, machine learning, robotics, human-computer interaction, 3D vision and heterogeneous computing. In the same year, it launched another AI lab in silicon valley.
In February, Baidu obtained approval from the Chinese government to establish a national AI lab conducting research of deep learning, computer vision, machine hearing, biometric identification, human-computer interaction, standardized services and intellectual property in deep learning.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd last year launched Alicloud ET, similar to Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri, which has the functions of image recognition, traffic forecast and emotion analysis. The company’s Alipay payment tool has 450 million users utilizing face recognition technology for various services.
Tencent’s machine learning-focused artificial intelligence research lab just set a record by achieving an 83.29% recognition rate in the MegaFace challenge, an internationally recognized contest.