(Yicai Global) March 7 -- Chinese search behemoth Baidu Inc. has brought three of its units together to form a new division known as the Smart Living Group, which will be headed up by the firm's Chief Operations Officer Lu Qi.
The Beijing-based firm will combine Duer Business Unit, Raven Studio and its Hardware Ecosystem Division, state-backed news agency The Paper reported yesterday, citing a company statement. Each department's respective head will report directly to Lu.
The shakeup marks a strategic shift toward conversational artificial intelligence, aimed at boosting Baidu's smart device operations while giving full play to the teams' particular strengths, the company said.
As of January, more than 50 million smart devices powered by Baidu's DuerOS had been activated, said Jing Kun, who leads the Duer Business Unit. Monthly active devices also topped 10 million, he added. Baidu used Duer to ramp up smart home product development last year and released three smart devices at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last month: a facial recognition speaker, a smart lamp and an AI projector.
The Smart Living Group and newly founded Intelligent Driving Group represent the two main directions for AI commercialization and mass production of related devices. The SLG will focus on making AI a part of everyday life for consumers, while the IDG hopes to popularize autonomous driving and intelligent vehicle technologies.