Alibaba Cloud Launches AI-Powered Meeting Assistant

Listen up folks, Alibaba Cloud is trying to tap into the new world of work and get more attention from corporate users.

Alibaba Cloud is having a busy week as it has unveiled an AI-powered meeting assistant and a new version of its cloud computer. 

Hot on the heels of the launch of its new server chips this week, the company has today (21 October) announced the new assistant – called Tingwu (meaning ‘listen’ in Mandarin Chinese).

It’s not clear when this comes to the UK but Alibaba Cloud was established in 2009 and has a global presence. It opened data centres in the UK back in 2018.

This latest development is Alibaba Cloud trying to tap into the new world of work and get more attention from corporate users looking to work remotely with more automated support.

Tingwu is developed by the Speech Lab of Alibaba DAMO Academy (DAMO), a research initiative by Alibaba Group. The technology works by converting the content of spoken meetings into written minutes in real time with up to 98% accuracy in Mandarin.

“Underpinned by our end-to-end speech recognition solution, Tingwu’s accuracy and powerful features make it a perfect tool for businesses to host multi-location online and offline conferences and interviews,” says Zhijie Yan, Head of Speech Lab of Alibaba DAMO Academy.

Using DAMO’s proprietary algorithms for analysing voiceprints and bearings, Tingwu, unveiled during this year’s Apsara Conference, can distinguish between the voices of as many as 10 meeting participants. The company explains that the assistant is equipped with a smart microphone, which can receive and recognise speech within a 10-metre range while reducing background noise.

Tingwu can handle English, Mandarin and 14 other Chinese dialects as well as “automatically correct or refine notes based on the entire context of a meeting”. The assistant can also organise the minutes by keywords, generate a meeting summary and highlights and list out follow-up items.

In China, Tingwu has been integrated into DingTalk, a digital collaboration platform created by Alibaba Group for transcribing conversations and sharing notes with users.

“The functionality of Tingwu will continue to expand, as we are now developing a model that can process mixed-language speech. We will also explore additional language options to prepare Tingwu for use in large multinational corporations and overseas markets,” Yan adds.

An Office in the Cloud

Following its Wuying cloud computer for enterprises which debuted last year, Alibaba Cloud has upgraded its functionality with an all-in-one PC and a one-stop “Cloud Workplace” solution.

Jiangwei Jiang, Senior Researcher and General Manager of Infrastructure Products, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, calls it “an office in the cloud” that provides enterprise and individual users remote working options, network access and storage functions.

Again, it’s all part of the craze to cater for the world of remote working.

Powered by the “Cloud Workplace”, the Wuying family of products now consists of the aforementioned all-in-one PC, the previously launched card and box terminals and a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) application, which allows corporate users to connect to the cloud computer from any device regardless of the operating system installed.

By the way, ‘Wuying’ means ‘cast no shadow’.

Alibaba Cloud is China’s leading provider of public cloud services by revenue in 2019, including PaaS and IaaS services, according to IDC. Alibaba Group is the world’s third leading and Asia Pacific’s leading IaaS provider by revenue in 2020 in US dollars, according to Gartner’s April 2021 report.

Image of Tingwu courtesy of Alibaba Cloud.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK and has 17 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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