Xiaomi’s next A.I.-packed voice assistant speaker may support Cortana

Voice Assistant
Xiaomi revealed through its Mi Community that it will offer a new voice assistant speaker for $30 in January. Sold by Xiaomi subsidiary Yeelight, the big deal with this device is that it will sport two virtual assistants: One based on Xiaomi artificial intelligence technology to be used within China, and Amazon Alexa for customers located in the Western market. This dual-A.I. support enables Yeelight to sell the voice assistant speaker on a global scale.

Although Xiaomi and Yeelight didn’t elaborate on the stated China-based A.I. technology, speculation points to possible Microsoft Cortana integration. Microsoft and Xiaomi made a deal in May 2016 that would bring Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype to Xiaomi phones as pre-installed apps. In return, Microsoft sold 1,500 patents to Xiaomi. Both companies officially called the move a “cross-license and patent transfer agreement.”

The puzzle piece stringing all this together is Microsoft’s Azure platform. It powers not only the cloud aspects of Microsoft’s apps, but Xiaomi’s Mi Cloud service as well. Since Cortana is a key component of the Azure platform, creating AI technology based on Cortana — and possibly using related patents purchased and/or licensed by Microsoft — seemingly backs up all the Cortana speculation related to the new voice assistant speaker.

Still, Xiaomi and Yeelight didn’t officially announce Cortana support, only Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Meanwhile, here are the specifications:

Speaker: 1x 2-watt
Voice input: 6x microphones
Voice input range: Up to 16.4 feet
Processor: Quad-core Cortex-A53 chip
Memory: 256MB
Storage: 256MB
Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth Low Energy
Buttons: Microphone off
Speaker off
Volume up
Volume down
Price: ~$30

“Yeelight Voice Assistant is equipped with Dual A.I. system and can also be used for the control of other Xiaomi home automation products, such as smart LED lamps, table lamps, bedside lamps, ceiling lights, etc,” the announcement states. “The device is currently supporting only of Xiaomi branded home automation products for the Xiaomi smart home, while in the coming weeks support will be extended to more devices.”

If the Yeelight Voice Assistant is indeed powered by Cortana, it would be one of only three stand-alone speakers to support Microsoft’s assistant. Samsung-owned Harman launched the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker in October, standing 9.5 inches tall and packing three woofers, three tweeters, and two passive radiators. It not only supports Cortana but has hands-free calling using Skype. Two months after its release, the Invoke now only costs $100, half of its original price.

Meanwhile, HP is slated to launch a stand-alone Cortana-powered speaker in the near future. HP’s version was originally slated for the 2017 holidays, but it may not appear until the CES 2018 technology show in a few weeks. The device originally made an appearance as a slide during Microsoft’s Build conference in May followed by Computex.

That all said, the Yeelight Voice Assistant will land on store shelves in China on January 31. Whether it actually supports Cortana remains to be seen. It will follow the tower-shaped Mi A.I. speaker launched earlier this year in China for $45.

See Invoke speaker

Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the powerhouse smartphone 2019 has been waiting for

The Xiaomi Mi 9 is the brand's latest phone, and it's a real powerhouse. It comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor, a triple-lens camera, a new in-display fingerprint sensor, and a new design. Here's what you need to know.

Intel teases 9th-generation Core i9 mobile processors at GDC 2019

Intel teased its new 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processors at GDC 2019. The company offered few specifics about the hardware, but a leak from late February provides insight into what the new processors might offer.

Intel Command Center lays foundation for next year’s ‘Arctic Sound’ GPU

Intel revealed its new Command Center driver software at GDC 2019. The updated interface will control current Intel integrated graphics and also lays the groundwork for next year's Intel video card.

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

G-Sync and FreeSync can make your games look better, but which is best?

There are some subtle differences between the two adaptive refresh technology offerings, and they affect cost, performance, and compatibility. Nvidia may have released it's feature first, but in recent years AMD has stepped up to the plate…

Problems with installing or updating Windows 10? Here's how to fix them

Upgrading to the newest version of Windows 10 is usually a breeze, but sometimes you run into issues. Never fear though. Our guide will help you isolate the issue at hand and solve it in a timely manner.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

Get the Surface Pro 6, with keyboard included, for $1,000 at Microsoft

Thinking of buying a Surface Pro 6? Microsoft is currently running a deal on its latest Windows 2-in-1, letting you bring one home for $1,000 with the keyboard included in the price.
Product Review

Acer Predator Triton 500 review

Nvidia’s new RTX 2080 Max-Q is the fastest GPU you’ll find in any laptop, but it usually comes at a steep price. Acer’s Predator Triton 500, starting at $2,500, makes it a little more affordable. But what must you sacrifice in the…

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.