Tencent’s Smart Speaker Rival to the Amazon Echo Looks Set to Launch Soon

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6:00 PM HKT, Fri April 13, 2018 1 mins read

Tencent is set to enter the smart speaker market later this year, with a fully-portable device that will reportedly enable voice activation for programs across the Tencent ecosystem, including WeChat and QQ Music. No official release date has been set, according to Chinese tech site 36kr — who first reported on the new speaker — and the product already appears to be six months behind schedule, but a launch in the next few months seems likely.

The smart speaker market in China has yet to take off in the same way it has in the US and Europe, where the likes of Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home Pod appear set to be joined by a Facebook rival this summer. But the entry of a Tencent-produced model, with functionality for a range of apps already heavily in use across the country, may well change that.

The speaker will reportedly be named 听听 Ting Ting (a cute way of saying “Listen”), which may be unlikely to dispel any security fears consumers might have about outsiders listening in on their communications. But with its apparent ability for voice activated WeChat messages, it also seems unlikely that many will care.

Here’s TechNode’s take on it:

With an internal battery, it is potentially more portable than other smart speakers on the market, but its killer feature is its integration with Tencent’s ecosystem. The operating system for the speakers is as yet unknown though it is reported to be able to send WeChat messages directly.

Tencent has plenty of experience in speech recognition via its Tencent Cloud-powered Xiaowei AI personal assistant, and has even supplied the technology to courts. Last spring the company appointed Yu Dong as head of its AI research division, in part to boost its applications of AI. Yu had spent nearly two decades developing speech recognition at Microsoft.

Cover photo from 36kr.

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