(Yicai Global) Jan. 11 -- Besides planning to introduce more smart features to its search engine and pinyin input system in 2019, Sogou aims to bring out two more smart electronic translation products mid-year, according to the Chinese internet company's chief executive.
Wang Xiaochuan never expected e-translators to bring in any major revenue for the firm, he told Yicai Global in an exclusive interview at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It is Sogou's first year at the event, which showcases the latest breakthroughs in consumer electronics.
Chinese people use the devices to help them communicate with the world, while expressing themselves and gathering information, Wang said, adding that making money is not central to this field.
Last January, the Beijing-based firm released two products, the Sogou travel translation treasure, akin to a multilingual offline mobile phone, and Sogou shorthand translation pen that can record and speak in 18 languages. The tech underpinning the hardware stems from its main search engine and pinyin input software businesses. Pinyin is the official romanization system for Chinese.
Few Chinese companies master the core technologies of developing translators, although there are many emerging manufacturers, Wang said. That also means that foreign firms may have gotten off to an early start in this field. Google came up with the Google Pixel Buds, which can translate 40 languages including Mandarin, in 2017.
Artificial intelligence will eventually replace manpower with machines and improve the efficiency of some verticals, according to Wang. Smart search engines will give more precise answers to people's questions instead of links to web pages, he added. This may not be news for Google users. Last April, the California-based firm also unveiled a new AI-tool, Talk to Books, which browses through thousands of books to find answers to users' questions.
Sogou has been criticized for its "hard but thankless" line of work regarding the translator products, Wang said, adding that the firm will use AI to make the existing products more intelligent.
Editor: Emmi Laine