iFlytek patent acquisition hints at attempt to make Go, chess-playing robot

iFlytek did not disclose whether a Go- or chess-playing robot manufactured under the new patent would be an addition to its family of products.

iFlytek (科大讯飞), one of China’s AI titans, has obtained a patent for a chess- or Go-playing robot, suggesting that the firm will use its AI technologies on a mass-market consumer product.

According to Tianyancha, a business search service provider, the Hefei-based powerhouse had filed a patent application with China National Intellectual Property Administration.

The patent in question concerns a chess- or Go-playing robot, mechanical arm, and electric motors placed at the joints, and other components designed to grab and set down the pieces on a chessboard.

iFlytek did not disclose whether a Go- or chess-playing robot manufactured under the new patent would be an addition to its family of products.

iFlytek has a rich hardware product line, extending across categories like AI-driven smart notepad, recorder and keyboard.

One of the company’s domestic arch rivals, SenseTime (商汤科技), introduced a desktop chess robot and a Go droid called SenseRobot in May and June this year, a move that market analysts believe is aimed at expanding revenue streams to revive the declining fortunes of the AI giant.

Online descriptions of iFlytek’s new patent suggest that it looks to increase the motion control precision for the mechanical arm attached to the robot, so as to boost the accuracy and reaction while playing.

Chinese tech companies are exploring various ways to monetize AI or robotics technologies, and STEM-focused consumer products is among the options.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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