A South Korean mobile network operator is getting in on the voice-based AI market with a new device called NUGU. Its name is the Korean word for “who”, and SK Telecom claims it features the first AI system that can understand the Korean language.
It’s a white, cylindrical device similar to the Amazon echo in that it’s designed to offer a communications hub for smart home devices, and allows users to interact with it and connected devices via voice command. Like the Echo, its based on deep learning technology that allows the AI system to evolve over time, and SK Telecom plans to open up software development to third parties in the first half of 2017—an approach that could speed up that evolution process, as it has in the case of the Echo’s Alexa AI system.
NUGU’s emergence is another indication of what looks to be a significant trend in the IT world: The rise of AI systems based on voice interaction, a logical response to the proliferation of connected devices that do not accommodate traditional user interfaces like keypads. Apple is rumored to be planning its own such offering based on Siri, and it’s fair to expect similar devices from the likes of Google and Microsoft, too, given how much those companies have invested in similar voice-based AI assistants.
NUGU will go on sale in Korea tomorrow, and is priced at roughly $223 USD.
August 31, 2016 – by Alex Perala