Baidu, the giant search engine company from China, seems to be working hard on widening its product catalog. This year alone, Baidu has improved DeepMind's Wavenet, Google's voice-making AI, so it could be trained in just a few hours and perform faster than real-time human speech. Furthermore, the Chinese company has recently partnered with Microsoft to boost the development of self-driving car technologies and with Nvidia on a broader partnership covering AI, cloud services, and self-driving cars.
This week, Baidu announced another set of products, this time to take on the new smart speakers market, which seems to be getting crowded pretty quickly with offerings from Google, Amazon, Apple, and others. Both Baidu's smart speakers were developed in a partnership with Teenage Engineering and Raven with innovative designs and were announced at the Baidu World Conference in Beijing, China.
Raven H, sports a touch-sensitive dot matrix display that can be used simultaneously with voice controls. As can be seen from the video above, the small display can be removed from the speaker's base and become a portable companion, but for now, there is no info about the display's autonomy.
Raven R also sports a touch-sensitive dot matrix display and works with voice controls, but unlike the H, its base is made of a six-axis arm that enables the R to "express emotions". As stated on Teenage Engineering's website:
R is the worlds [sic] first emotional 6-axis life form with unique possibilities to express emotions and react to a conversation driven by Baidu's leading artificial intelligence technology.
R sports the same loudspeaker design as the H built into the base and, as can be seen from the video above, it is capable of dancing to the music it is playing and "expressing feelings". Also, both H and R are connected to Baidu's knowledge graph and servers to pull down information.
H is currently only available in China, from Raven, for 1,699 Yuan (roughly $256), while R is expected to debut in the Chinese market in 2018. Jesper Kouthoofd, Teenage Engineering's CEO, has told Engadget that he expects R to cost around $500 or $600, but it seems to be a low price tag when compared to other simpler creations from his company, such as the OP-1 synthesizer, which currently costs $899, and the OD-11 speaker, starting at $799.