Haier moves to upgrade its products

By Fan Feifei | (China Daily )| Updated : 2018-05-14

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In the internet era, home appliance manufacturers are shifting to smart strategies at an accelerated pace. Haier Group, for example, has made great efforts to cooperate with internet giants in the field of artificial intelligence and smart homes to boost the transformation and upgrading of its products.

It has inked a strategic cooperation deal with search engine company Sogou Inc in AI. The two will set up a joint R&D team to explore terminal devices and intelligent products that can smooth interaction between users and home appliances.

They will mainly carry out cooperation in smart home application scenarios. Sogou's voice technology will offer support in the fields of phonetics, semantics and content for Haier's U+ smart home platform, as well as speech recognition solutions including the microphone array design and other hardware.

Beijing-based Sogou, an internet service company under China's Sohu.com Inc that includes search and gaming platforms, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2017 and raised $585 million in an initial public offering.

Haier has been a leader in the home appliance industry for many years. It has developed a wide range of smart products from refrigerators to air conditioners and washing machines.

Characterized by intelligence and interactivity, the U+ platform can help homeowners manage air quality and temperature, diet, water, security, health and entertainment elements.

Using the platform, consumers have access to realtime information about their home appliances on their mobile devices via a dedicated app. Appliances can there-fore be monitored and controlled remotely, making life easier. For instance, the fridge is app-controlled, so they can adjust the temperature remotely and find recipes based on its contents.

"Our understanding of AI is to promote the deep integration of AI technologies and smart home," said Zhao Feng, chief technology officer of Haier. "Meanwhile, we will provide resources to build an innovative and open platform for the whole smart home industry."

Apart from strategic cooperation with Sogou, Haier will reach partnership deals with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, LingLong Co (a joint venture of e-commerce giant JD and leading Chinese AI company iFlytek) and Mobvoi Inc, a Chinese AI startup backed by Google Inc in the field of AI and smart home.

Founded in 1984, Haier is the world's leading brand of major household appliances and is now transforming from a traditional manufacturer to an open entrepreneurship platform. Haier said it aims to become a global leader in the era of the internet of things.

Its 2017 global revenue, excluding GE Appliances, was 241.9 billion yuan ($37.9 billion), with year-on-year growth of 20 percent.


The booth of Haier Group displays smart home products at an exhibition in Weifang, East China's Shandong province, on Sept 3, 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

(China Daily 01/25/2018 page15)