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Alibaba’s AI Labs ties up with MediaTek for IoT play

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's artificial intelligence division, AI Labs, has joined hands with Taiwanese fabless chipmaker MediaTek to collaborate on Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives, including building a voice-controlled smart home ecosystem.

"Our AI and cloud computing capabilities, along with MediaTek's cutting-edge technology in chip design, provide unique advantages to our connectivity solutions for smart homes," Miffy Chan, head of Alibaba AI Labs, said in a statement.

The partnership comes after the two companies collaborated for Tmall Genie, the voice-controlled smart home assistant launched by Alibaba AI Labs in July last year. MediaTech provided chip technology support for Tmall Genie. More than one million Tmall Genie devices were sold in China during Alibaba's Global Shopping Festival in November last year.

Meanwhile, the two companies also announced the Smartmesh connectivity solution in China that supports the latest many-to-many Bluetooth mesh technology.

The solution is based on AI Labs' self-developed IoT protocol named IoTConnect and the Bluetooth chip co-developed by the two companies. It enables smart home devices to pair with Tmall Genie, leading up to a Tmall Genie-controlled smart home ecosystem.

IoTConnect is an open connectivity protocol based on Bluetooth mesh standard for smart hardware and smart home appliance makers. Smart devices using the protocol can be automatically paired with Tmall Genie.

The protocol aims to promote unified connectivity standards among smart devices, and hence lower the cost in developing connected devices and foster the development of voice-controlled smart home ecosystem.

The Smartmesh solution supports the latest Bluetooth mesh networking and Bluetooth 5 functionality set up by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the body that oversees the development of Bluetooth standards.

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