Kakao plans to put its AI in cars and houses

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Kakao plans to put its AI in cars and houses

Kakao threw its first-ever developer conference on Tuesday, vowing to expand the area of application of its own artificial intelligence (AI) platform to cars and even homes.

“Prioritizing AI technology, we have been constantly investing in the field at the risk of our destiny,” said Kim Byung-hak, vice president of the AI Lab at Kakao at the if Kakao 2018 at Coex, southern Seoul. “We are trying to interact with users through Kakao i and Kakao Mini [smart speaker].”

Kakao, operator of Korea’s most popular chat app KakaoTalk, has been collaborating with businesses in other industries to deploy its AI platform. It forged a partnership with Hyundai Motor to jointly develop vehicles controlled by Kakao i.

“We plan to lower the risk of driving and even have the AI platform control vehicles,” said Kim, adding that the first Hyundai vehicles that employ Kakao i will be released from 2019.

Kakao has been working with construction companies such as GS Engineering and Construction and Posco Engineering and Construction to develop smart homes that allow residents to use AI to control lights, heaters and other electronics devices as well as ventilation. Competition in the so-called smart home market relying on Internet of Things technology is expected to heat up with Kakao’s entrance. Similar smart concepts are already available in some apartments that were designed in partnership with electronic appliance producers and mobile carriers such as Samsung, LG and SK Telecom.

Kim also said the Kakao Mini speaker has collected nearly 200 million voice commands in the past six months since its release and used the data to teach its AI engine how to recognize voices and deal with conversation. The voice assistant processes over 300,000 different instructions from users daily, and the ratio of failure has been lowered to 5.9 percent from the initial 12 percent.

Shin Jeong-hwan, chief technology officer at Kakao, announced the company’s plan to open a developer site - just as Silicon Valley giants like Google, Facebook and Apple do - and make its application program interface readily available by the end of this year.

“What propelled Kakao’s huge growth was a bold openness,” he said. “We will keep up with efforts to evolve with developer communities.”

He went on to say that Kakao has been paying attention to and investing in the two biggest technological trends - AI and blockchain - because new technologies generate new value.

“A paradigm shift is an enormous crisis as well as an opportunity,” he said.

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