Chinese artificial intelligence firm Mobvoi, backed by Google and Volkswagen Group China, has been named as Google Assistant’s official partner and will use Google Assistant in its smart hardware products targeting overseas consumers.
The news was announced yesterday at Google I/O 2017 in Mountain View, California. Mobvoi said its smart home assistant product Tichome Mini, to be launched later this year, will be its first product equipped with Google Assistant. The product will only be available in overseas markets, the company said.
"We believe that the Google Assistant is capable of delivering compelling user experiences with its years of persistent exploration and accumulated experiences in research and development, as well as core AI technologies that include speech and language processing, dialogue management, and question answering," said Li Zhifei, Mobvoi’s CEO.
Founded in 2012 by former Google research scientists Li Zhifei and Mike Lei, Mobvoi, also called Chumenwenwen in Chinese, has in-house core technologies in speech recognition, natural language understanding and vertical search. It will continue to develop both hardware and software for its domestic market products.
The Beijing-based company has raised a total of US$250 million so far from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Zhen Fund, SIG, and Google. The total includes a US$180 million series D financing round from Volkswagen Group China completed last month.
Mobvoi’s products include smartwatch Ticwatch and smart rear-view mirror Ticmirror. The Tichome Mini, a disk-shaped smart home assistant device (pictured), will be launched for sale in overseas markets later this year.