MWC 2017 News

Line debuts Asian AI assistant platform ‘Clova’ at MWC, Amazon Echo-like smart speaker in the works

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Today, every other technology giant is experimenting with AI assistant and smart home solutions. But, you know that the competition is about to get even tougher when a certain name pops up. We have a similar feeling as Japan’s biggest messaging giant Line has today announced the launch of its own artificial intelligence platform on stage at MWC’17 in Barcelona.

At the heart of this platform is an AI-powered voice assistant. Naver-backed Line is calling it Clova, a shorthand representation for Cloud Virtual Assistant. This AIplatform will rival popular assistant platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri. But, to set their voice assistant apart and carve out a niche for itself, Clova has been designed to be an Asian clone of such assistant services.

Starting off, Line is adopting the route taken by Google and baking their voice assistant into their main messaging app. But, the tasks assigned to the said assistant inside the app still remain a mystery. They’ll most likely be somewhat along the line of Google Assistant, just not as powerful — which is not true because Clova has been built in collaboration with Korea’s popular search engine giant Naver.

Further, Clova being similar to other voice assistants available on the market will be able to understand queries using a combination of speech recognition and natural language understanding. It is being designed so as to enable human conversations without ever having to touch the device. Talking about the launch, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa says,

AI is our most important project atLINE, and represents a paradigm shift as dramatic as the rise of the smartphone a decade ago. The Clova platform allows LINE’s existing services to interconnect, moving users post-touch, post-display, and even post-Smart-Portal, into a new future. We are aiming to make Clova Asia’s leading cloud AI platform.

In addition, the company has announced its plans (also mentioned on the official website) to release hardware devices such as smart home speakers, car navigation systems and other gadgets powered by this cloud-based intelligence service. This means Line plans to take away Amazon and Google’s monopoly by introducing an ecosystem of its own smart products in Asia. Though details are a little bleak but the first hardware device is expected to be Wave — a smart speaker running Clova. It is expected to

Though details are a little bleak but the first hardware device is expected to be Wave — a smart speaker running Clova. It is expected to be released in Japan and South Korea sometime between April and June (or early summer). Also, the company has partnered with a handful of hardware manufacturers Sony and LG. They’ll incorporate Clova into their home appliances and toys.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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