Chinese tech giant Baidu has launched Duer, the company's digital assistant that will look to challenge Google Now, Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana in the space.
Baidu, which is often described as the Google of China, unveiled Duer at the Baidu World conference that was held in Beijing on Sept. 8. The name of the assistant translates roughly to Du Secretary.
Duer is integrated in the Baidu search app for Android, which is installed in millions of smartphones all over China. The digital assistant will provide Chinese users the ability to access different services through the app, for tasks such as placing orders for food deliveries and calling for ride shares, all of which can be done through voice commands. Other functions include making reservations at restaurants, purchasing tickets to the movies and booking flights.
Duer will also be able to handle specific questions such as which restaurants are pet-friendly by utilizing Baidu's search engine technology to comb through reviews and come up with the required answer.
Baidu said that is developing a system which will allow Duer to control different devices located in the user's home. In addition, the company is working to allow users to connect to service providers such as healthcare companies through Duer.
Baidu, which is among the pioneers of research on artificial intelligence, is the only company of its scale that is capable of operating within the space against U.S. giants Google, Apple and Facebook from outside the country.
Duer will follow the footsteps of Google Now, with the digital assistant to be built into the other apps of the company such as its Maps app and Nuomi, which is a group-buying service.
Baidu demonstrated that Duer features artificial intelligence that can recognize images better compared to humans and to technology found in Cortana and Google Now.
Duer stands out from its rival digital assistant apps through the demonstration that Baidu performed for the service, where Duer was embedded in a robot. While Baidu has no current plans to sell a Duer-powered robot to users, the possibility is always present for the tech giant.
Baidu has grown into a worth challenger to the biggest tech companies in the United States, seizing the opportunity to expand in the biggest consumer electronics market of the world that is China with the absence of its U.S.-based rivals in the country.
While Google is preparing to re-enter the Chinese market soon with versions of Android and the Play Store, the company will have the daunting task of overcoming Baidu and other successful Chinese companies such as Xiaomi.