Microsoft’s AI chatbot takes control of Xiaomi’s smart home devices

Messaging apps are a pretty big deal in China, being used not just for conversation but also for e-commerce and even purchasing items from street vendors.

You can now add controlling your thermostat to the list, as Microsoft teaming up with Xiaomi for smart home control via their Xiaoice chatbot. The company announced yesterday that it’s partnering with Xiaomi to enter the Internet of Things business in China. To kick off the partnership, Microsoft announced the fifth-generation of its AI chatbot Xiaoice.

The headline feature of the 5th generation of Xiaoice is its ability to play nice with smart home devices. The chatbot can now control devices part of Xiaomi’s Internet of Things platform. This means users will now be able to use Xiaoice to control around 35 different types of smart devices that are a part of the Xiaomi Internet of Things platform.

The latest incarnation of Xiaoice can also speak with humans over the phone and use streaming video to detect emotions and engage in conversation based on the person’s expressions.

Microsoft isn’t only teaming up with Xiaomi to integrate Xiaoice into its services and says it will continue to partner with other companies to bring Xiaoice to more devices. The company boasted Xiaoice’s achievements at the event, stating that it has been used by more than 100 million users and engaged in more than 30 million rounds of dialogue.

Xiaoice is available in China, Japan, USA, India and Indonesia.

Xiaoice is, of course, cross-platform and lives in various chat apps such as WeChat, avoiding issues related to Microsoft’s lack of a mobile platform. In China where Amazon’s Alexa still has low penetration, it could allow an easy way for Microsoft to get a foothold on the Internet of Things stage as it explodes around the world.

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