Naver AI will power chips from Qualcomm

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Naver AI will power chips from Qualcomm

Naver, operator of Korea’s most popular search engine, signed a partnership with a Qualcomm subsidiary Monday to embed its artificial intelligence platform in computer chips made by the American company.

For the past few years, Naver and its messaging app subsidiary Line have been developing an AI platform called Clova. The partnership will allow Qualcomm to ship its system-on-chip processor with Clova, and devices powered by the chip can have AI functions. For example, a speaker embedded with the chip can easily turn into a speaker that can recognize human voices and follow instructions like “play music.”

“For all of the features of Clova to work in a variety of devices, use of an optimized processor is a must,” a Naver spokesman said.

The partnership is a win-win for both companies. Qualcomm Technology can mass-produce an AI semiconductor, and Naver can expand its footprint to devices from manufacturers with which it might not necessarily have a direct partnership.

“The deal with Qualcomm is expected to spur Clova’s ecosystem,” Naver CEO Han Seong-sook said Monday. “We intend to enhance Clova’s capabilities further to spearhead the paradigm shift centered around AI.”

Clova is Naver’s answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. In Asia, the Korean company has the upper hand since the companies have yet to enter the region and Naver’s Line is a dominant chat app in many countries, including Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.

Naver plans to use the Clova-powered Qualcomm chip in its AI speaker scheduled for release this fall.

Called Wave, the speaker will offer various artificial intelligence-powered features including search and voice recognition. It will launch first in Japan at a price tag of 15,000 yen ($135).


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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