Homeowners in China and beyond will soon be able to use smart speakers to turn on the lights and control the microwave under a new partnership between Chinese search and artificial intelligence giant Baidu and smart device manufacturer Midea Group.
The two Beijing-based companies have announced a “strategic partnership” through which users can control Midea’s array of smart home appliances through Baidu’s lineup of smart Xiaodu speakers, according to a press release sent out by Baidu.
The partnership, in turn, will bring “smart home comforts to tens of millions of users and provide a full smart home ecosystem,” the companies said.
Under their new partnership, the two companies will also sell bundles of their products, featuring Midea appliances and Xiaodu smart speakers. Midea touts itself as China’s largest smart device manufacturer, with 70 million smart appliances on the market.
China’s smart speaker market is growing explosively, with $235 million in sales during the first quarter, according to All View Cloud, a data analytics firm. China saw a 23 percent jump in smart speaker shipments in the first quarter, even with the shutdowns and quarantines triggered by the coronavirus.
Baidu’s Xiaodu devices, which utilize a cloud connection or infrared, will now enable homeowners and others to use voice commands to control an even wider array of smart appliances than was previously possible.
Under technology previously deployed by the two companies, Xiaodu smart speakers can be used to control a range of other smart appliances made by Midea, from the kitchen to the furnace in the basement.
With help from Xiaodu products and DuerOS, a voice assistant, homeowners and apartment renters alike can turn on the rice cooker, set the temperature of their refrigerator or start the dishwasher.
In addition, voice commands can also be used to switch on the Midea robo vacuum cleaner, the air conditioner, heat, the washer, water heater, water purifier, gas water heater and kitchen hood, the companies noted in their press release.
Last August, Baidu overtook Google in home assistant sales, taking over second place behind Amazon.