(Yicai Global) March 23 -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s artificial intelligence development division has made a breakthrough in its efforts to advance the capabilities of its voice-assistant, meaning future versions of its AliGenie smart speaker may be able to see in addition to just listening and speaking.
Alibaba AI Labs has released the second version of its voice assistant software, similar to Apple Inc.'s Siri. AliGenie 2.0 is capable of recognizing images and faces and detecting objects, the Hangzhou-based firm said in a statement.
Alibaba launched its own version of Amazon Inc.'s highly-popular intelligent speaker Echo, last August, called Tmall Genie. The application of AliGenie 2.0 could make the company's future smart speakers the first globally to be capable of visual-activation.
Sales of Tmall Genie hit two million units as of March this year, Alibaba AI Labs Manager Qian Xue said, adding that it took Amazon almost two years to reach the same sales volume.
The lab believes that smart speakers will eventually evolve into fully-fledged home robots capable of not only listening, speaking and seeing but also moving.