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Huawei’s betting big on AI, will show off its achievements on September 2

huawei ai ifa 2017 news p10 first take
Huawei has big plans for artificial intelligence, something it has made very clear several times over the past year, and on September 2 it’s going to reveal the first product built around its AI technology. In a series of teasers posted to its social media channels, it notes the date and tells us to “expect the unexpected.”

Does this mean Huawei’s own voice assistant is here, ready to challenge Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung’s Bixby? Possibly, but Huawei has also hinted any assistant duties will be just a small part of what its AI is capable of. In a tweet from the end of July, Huawei asked what AI meant to us, and in an image said it should be, “more than just a voice assistant.”

The September 2 date coincides with Huawei’s keynote presentation at the IFA technology trade show in Berlin, which has the title, “On device intelligence: Mobile AI is on the way.” While discussion of how AI will change the way we use smartphones will be a major part of the talk, Huawei CEO Richard Yu will also focus on, “Why Huawei’s latest innovation will make its smart devices truly intelligent companions.”

Huawei isn’t expected to launch any hardware at IFA, as it has scheduled a separate launch event for October, where the Mate 10 is likely to make its debut. The IFA show and keynote may be the launchpad for a virtual assistant destined for use on the Mate 10, enabled by the still unofficial Kirin 970 processor, which is rumored to be specially engineered for making AI faster than ever.

Richard Yu has already spoken about an, “Intelligent revolution,” among smart products, which he predicts will happen over the coming five to 10 years. Huawei COO Wan Biao envisions a future where man and machine become, “integrated together for proactive thinking.” It’s clear Huawei has grand plans for artificial intelligence.

Huawei’s plans may be big, but it lags behind the competition in AI assistants on its smartphones. It has incorporated Amazon’s Alexa on the Mate 9, but the experience is less cohesive than on the HTC U11, while Apple’s Siri has been available for several years already. Samsung has proven how difficult it is to get AI right with the slow launch of its Bixby assistant. We’ll know what Huawei plans next month, and presumably see it in action the month after that.

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