A computer mouse with speech recognition and transcription capability, a smart watch with step tracker and sleep monitor, and a portable Chinese-English translation machine are some of the exhibits at the exhibition hall of China Speech Valley, the country's first nation-level industrial base setting its eye on speech and artificial intelligence (AI).
Since its inception in 2012, China Speech Valley has been on the cutting-edge of developing AI ecosystems to support technological breakthroughs and economic growth.
Qi Dongfeng, president of Anhui Information Investment Company said, "In 2016, its output value reached 32.7 billion yuan, up by 44.1 percent. So far, 200 companies including IFLYTEK, AMAZFIT, QuantumCTek and Sunwin have settled in."
IFLYTEK, one of the leading companies in the Speech Valley engaged in speech technology development and services, has been investing 25 percent of its sales revenue in research and development for five consecutive years. In 2017, the company set eight new records in international AI competitions.
Meanwhile, communications technology company QuantumCTek supported the successful launch of the “Mozi” quantum satellite. The Speech Valley also contributed to the world's first long-distance quantum communication line between Beijing and Shanghai, among other internationally advanced innovation efforts.
Now, the Speech Valley has developed a speech and AI industrial chain covering basic research, technology research and development, platform support, and industrial development and application, and built up an AI innovation ecosystem with companies of all sizes.
AMAZFIT is also one of the leading companies in the Speech Valley. Its Xiaomi Watch managed to claim the largest market share in the smart wearable industry globally in about four years. The smart wearable industry fund, launched by the company, reached 100 billion yuan (US$15.55 billion) in its first phase, and the company invested in a dozen start-ups engaging in fitness apps, health and elderly care, chip design, new materials and precise manufacturing in the U.S.'s Silicon Valley and Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, where the Speech Valley is located. It is estimated that by 2021, the output value of AMAZFIT, its suppliers and retailers will reach 10 billion yuan.
Jointly built by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Anhui Provincial Government, the Speech Valley offers considerate supporting services to the AI industrial chain under favorable policies and market-oriented management. "The platform provides services like market promotion and financial support, and thus, entrepreneurs here can focus on technical research and product development," Yu Yanxing, founder of Anhui Speech Information Technology co., LTD., said.
The high-tech industry represented by intelligent speech contributed to 65 percent of Anhui's industrial growth in the first half of 2017. In September 2017, Anhui Province launched special policies and measures to support the construction of the Speech Valley, and set up a special fund for intelligent speech and AI industry development. The Speech Valley established a think tank last November, comprising 30 AI experts.
Qi said the Speech Valley has the support of national strategies and provincial policies, and it will accelerate the development of AI in the next five to 10 years and strive for an operating revenue of 100 billion yuan by 2020.