IF­lytek mar­ries voice tech with ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - See page 18 By MA SI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn See

In Novem­ber 2016, US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in Wash­ing­ton “ad­dressed” a con­fer­ence in Bei­jing via a video link and high­lighted the big leaps made by ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence or AI. As if to un­der­score his point, Obama switched to flu­ent Chi­nese and joked he wanted to con­trib­ute to China’s de­vel­op­ment in his post-re­tire­ment years.

Well, turned out, it was not re­ally Obama who made that speech. For the record: the for­mer US pres­i­dent hardly knows Chi­nese. The video clip was pro­duced by iF­lytek Co Ltd us­ing AI, to demon­strate its speech syn­the­sis ca­pa­bili- ty, which can pro­duce hu­man voice.

The au­di­ence was wowed by the ma­chine’s abil­ity to re­pro­duce Obama’s tone, in­to­na­tions, in­flec­tions and pitch in Chi­nese words.

The video is part of iF­lytek’s broad ef­forts to tap into voice com­put­ing, which is said to be the next ma­jor medium for man-ma­chine in­ter­ac­tion.

The com­pany was founded in 1999 by a group of re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of China. iF­lytek is the Chi­nese coun­ter­part of the US firm Nu­ance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc and Siri, the vir­tual voice as­sis­tant de­vel­oped by Ap­ple Inc.

“We aim to of­fer key tech­nolo­gies needed for the era of voice in­ter­ac­tion,” Liu Qingfeng, chair­man of iF­lytek, said. The com­pany is in fierce com­pe­ti­tion with Baidu Inc for supremacy in the bur­geon­ing sec­tor.

In Bliz­zard Chal­lenge 2016, a global com­pe­ti­tion to test speech syn­the­sis, iF­lytek se­cured the crown in com­puter-based pro­duc­tion of hu­man-like voice in Chi­nese, English and Hindi lan­guages. The score for Chi­nese syn­the­sis reached 4.5 points, roughly mean­ing its com­put­er­ized speech sounds like that of a TV news bul­letin an­chor.

Last year, the com­pany also pre­vailed in the Wino­grad Schema Chal­lenge, a well­rec­og­nized global com­peti-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.