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China’s Siri upgrades to dominate translation market

By Ma Danning (People's Daily Online)    16:20, April 23, 2018

Chinese AI-powered speech recognition leader iFlytek from East China’s Anhui province has slugged it out in the translation arena with its latest translator that can recognize and translate speeches in 33 languages.

“iFlytek Translator 2.0 not only represents a clear technological advance over competing products, but pushes boundaries in global voice recognition and the instant translation market,” said Hu Yu, executive president of iFlytek Co., Ltd, on a product launch in Beijing on April 20.

The flagship voice-based translation device iFlytek Translator 2.0 allows users to talk to the speaker to translate their words between Chinese and 33 foreign languages, including English, Japanese, Korean, French, and Spanish, with the original and translated text seen both on screen and read out loud.

It handles both Mandarin and four common Chinese dialects, including Cantonese. The powerful gadget also provides offline translation.

“With the deepening of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative and the irreversible trend of globalization, commercial and tourism links will strengthen and the need for communication will always grow. There is no doubt that this machine will greatly foster international exchanges. ” Hu said.

“The translation between different languages is related to the future destiny of human society. We take translation as a career not just a business,” said Hu in an interview with People’s Daily Online.

At the Boao Forum for Asia in China’s Hainan province from April 9 to 12, some 500 sets were deployed at the conference as the only officially designated translation machine. It made splashes for its excellent accuracy in assisting the glittering gathering of world leaders and experts.



As the largest publicly-listed AI and intelligent speech and language technologies provider in the Asia-Pacific region, iFlytek already dominates China’s voice recognition market and it is everywhere in China. Court systems use its voice-recognition technology to transcribe lengthy proceedings; business call centers use its voice synthesis technology to generate automated replies; and Didi, a popular Chinese ride-hailing app, also uses iFlytek’s technology to broadcast orders to drivers.

Next, iFlytek looks to unite nationwide hardware makers to groom more digital-age marriage of business with high-tech. iFlytek is now expanding into voice-activated command systems for cars, homes, robots, and schools. It has launched systems that enable people to control their cars, TVs, and home appliances via voice; and has invested in a startup that makes home robots. It also established a multimillion-dollar fund to invest in AI-related startups around the world.

As one of the nation’s four tech heavyweights to build the national AI open innovation platform, iFlytek is a leader, but the turf war is heating up in China’s booming AI translator market. Beijing-based Youdao Computer System and Sogou Inc. each have launched their translation app. National AI giants Baidu and Tencent have also flaunted systems that enable real-time transcribing and translation on big screens during conferences.

In January, Beijing announced plans to build a $2.12 billion AI research park in the city’s west, Xinhua reported, as China pushes ahead to fulfill its ambition to become a world leader in AI by 2025. China unveiled an AI development plan last year, vowing to bring the value of core AI industries to more than 1 trillion RMB by 2030. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Ma Danning, Bianji)

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