Interview with DSC member iFLYTEK with Zhong Kun
The iFLYTEK group of companies is a well-known leader in Research and Development (R&D) and for its transformative products in the A.I. business world.
Since its establishment, the company is devoted to cornerstone technological research in speech and languages, natural language understanding, machine learning, machine reasoning, adaptive learning, and has maintained the world-leading position in those domains. The company actively promotes the development of A.I. products and their sector-based applications, with visions of enabling machines to listen and speak, understand and think, creating a better world with artificial intelligence.
Could you give us some insights on the main areas of AI the iFlytek group of companies are working on?
- IFLYTEK is studying speech synthesis, speech recognition, speech evaluation, natural language processing, machine translation, image recognition, optical text recognition and handwritten text recognition. Generally speaking, our main direction is artificial intelligence processing of language and text.
- For these research results, we use it not only for ourselves, but also share to more developers to develop applications that meet the needs of the industry via our open cloud platform. By the end of May 2021, the AI open platform we provide had gathered more than 2.1 million developer teams, with a total number of applications exceeding 1.12 million, and 415 AI solutions provided to externals.
In your role as vice president of the education business group, how do you see the field of education currently evolving and especially on the changes due to the pandemic?
- The pandemic has deeply affected every industry, especially education. In the past, online education was only a supplement to the traditional offline education, but today, online education has become very important, even in some cases, it has become the main teaching method.
- Under this change, we see many changes in education. For example, in traditional concept, we use technology to enhance education efficiency, which is called “education informatization”. Today, this concept has gradually changed to “informationalized education”. This change of concept typically reflects the real needs of revolution: today’s online education should start from the very beginning with structurization of teaching content, online teaching process and full digitalization of teaching feedback. This is not only the improvement of efficiency, more important, it will make the “adaptive learning” which we have been looking forward to for a long time have complete technical feasibility. Imagine, adaptive learning, so that every kid can focus their time in the place they really need to learn, improve the efficiency and effect of learning in essence, and can enhance kid’s confidence, save more time to participate in sports and hobbies, which is very valuable for growth. Is there anything more worthy of our efforts than this vision?
As an example, what have you experienced with your AR and A.I. technology “Jingle Magic”? Or have you noticed a different kind of demand for your Intelligent Conference System?
- Jingle magic is a subsidiary of iFLYTEK, which provides AI + AR products. Unlike other AR technology companies, Jingle magic focuses its technological innovation and application in education. It provides AR intelligent desk, AI smart screen, AI intelligent integrated system, AI smart blackboard etc., which are applied in the classroom or laboratory of K12 school. It is widely welcomed by teachers and students.
- This is a typical use case of iFLYTEK AI technology applied to industry: AI technology and digital technology must be combined with the needs of the industry in order to really bring changes to the industry. This is also the original intention of our open cloud platform to provide AI technology – so more organizations can study and apply AI technology together and improve the operation efficiency and working quality.
What kind of observations/trends/changes you see in the field of education?
- First, the pandemic made people accept online education / e-education, and now it is a standard way of teaching. Even if pandemic finishes soon, people’s demand for online education / E-education will remain or even increase for a long time.
- Secondly, we will rely more on school education and family education than after-school offline training classes. This is a good opportunity for educational services and products based on tools and resources;
- Finally, people will be more rational and calm when they choose from massive education services. This makes service provide who has long-term quality guarantee in product and service receiving respect and support.
Have you lately launched new services or products in the field of education?
- Recently, we launched an e-library solution for K12 school.
- The product integrates digital content, e-paper for reading and writing, data analysis and AI recommendation technology, so that students can read more healthily, more independently and more efficiently. Meanwhile, teachers can recommend more digital content with suitable capability and interests for students with AI guidance. In addition, students can also share their learning with handwritten notes, which can improve their reading capability and understanding capability.
Do your services, products and research have a connection to Digital Stationery? Could you please elaborate.
- They indeed have a very close connection.
- We believe that the basic capabilities of public education App include, providing pleasant reading experience, the process of generating learning feedback without disturbances, and the process of AI analysis and recommendation of content. Among them, the first two factors are highly related to digital stationery, and the last one is closely related to the data provided by digital stationery.
With which DSC members do you have a business relationship? Have you jointly created services, products or research?
- We have worked with Wacom as a DSC member on pen technology for handwriting, worked with E Ink on writing experience improvement research on e-Paper display, and also worked with Lamy on product and brand cooperation.
What kind of services, products and research are you are currently planning?
- We are deep diving into digital stationery technology in the field of B2C and B2B.
- For B2C, we are continuing to explore the customer value of combining digital stationery and AI. Meanwhile, we are also developing digital stationery that is more suitable for female users.
- For B2B, we will standardize digital stationery and make it as a platform and promote more developers to develop industry solutions with software and hardware from our platforms, including education, healthcare, office automation and other industries.