(Yicai Global) Jan. 16 -- China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. opened an unstaffed store in Beijing, where its smart voice assistant 'Tmall Genie' acts as a shopping guide to sell robots provided by 12 manufacturers including iRobot Corporation. The store represents a first in that a smart voice assistant sells robots.
Introduced by Alibaba's e-commerce trading platform Tmall for the robot festival to be held this week, the store will serve as an experience outlet, said chinanews.com, an online media outlet, today. The store occupies an area of 260 square meters. Tmall Genie presents robots which have various functions such as home cleaning, cooking, emotional companionship and tutoring.
Tmall Genie can be guided by Chinese language voice instructions, and carry out appliance control, voice-based shopping, takeout ordering and music playing. Since Tmall started selling sweeper robots in 2009, iRobot's sales doubled in each subsequent year, which led it to introduce others with mainstream functions. "Tmall assisted the company in swiftly marching into the Chinese market, and enabled consumers to learn more about the sweeper robot," said Zhang Li, general manager of iRobot China.
At the robot festival, China's internet security firm Beijing Qihoo Technology Co., better known as Qihoo 360, will unveil its first robot, and the Silicon Valley-based Neato Robotics will sell on Tmall its new products released at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.