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THE INVESTOR

Mobile & Internet

Naver introduces AI voice assistant app

  • PUBLISHED :May 12, 2017 - 17:20
  • UPDATED :June 01, 2017 - 17:49
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[THE INVESTOR] South Korean internet giant Naver released a new mobile app running on its artificial intelligence voice assistant platform Clova on May 12, officially joining the global race to develop new AI-powered services for the public.

The new app, called “Naver Clova” and currently offered in a beta version, is available for download on the Google Play app store. It is unavailable on the Apple App Store currently.

Naver Clova runs on the AI-powered voice assistant platform Clova, short for “cloud virtual assistance,” which was co-developed by Naver, the operator of Korea’s biggest portal website, and its Japan-based mobile messaging subsidiary Line.

Similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple's Siri, Naver’s Clova combines speech recognition and natural language processing abilities to respond to a user’s questions and call up information such as the latest weather, news and shopping information.

Naver said it decided to first introduce Clova in the form of a smartphone app, rather than a hardware device like a speaker, so the wider public could access the firm’s new AI voice assistant technology. 

The most touted feature of the mobile app is its ability to immediately respond to user’s inquiries such as “how much is 500 euros?” or make recommendations upon requests like “recommend some places for a group dinner in Hannam-dong,” according to Naver.

“Since AI is designed to improve as it accumulates more and more information about the user, our smart voice assistant app will be able to offer better tailored information and contents for each user over time,” the firm said.

Looking ahead, Naver and Line are reportedly planning to launch a Clova-embedded standalone speaker, called Wave, by the end of June in Japan under the Line brand. They plan to later introduce the smart speaker to Korea and other core markets for Line, including Thailand and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, rival Kakao, the operator of Korea’s dominant mobile messenger KakaoTalk, is also planning to launch an AI-powered voice assistant platform as well as an array of new services and a speaker dependent on the smart platform next month.

By Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Heradl (jys@heraldcorp.com)
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