(Yicai Global) May. 23 -- China's Baidu Inc. has partnered with a Guangdong-based furniture maker and an artificial intelligence start-up to launch an artificial intelligence-based home package retailer and the team kicked off operations with the opening of eight experience-based smart home stores.
Yihua Lifestyle Technology Co., which makes flooring and furniture, and Beijing-based Xiaocong Smart Technology Co., which creates smart appliances, joined Baidu to open the Yihua retail centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhengzhou in Henan province, reported tech news website DoNews.
The parties plan to cooperate further to open 18 similar experience halls nationwide this year and in the future, create 300 outlets that combine real estate, elderly care, and community lifestyle stores to install smart home solutions in over 30,000 apartments.
Under the deal, Baidu provides its DuerOS digital assistant as the control center for the smart home, while Xiaocong brings in connected home equipment such as lighting, sockets, curtains and door locks. Yihua provides the display venues.
China's smart home market is expected to reach a value of CNY130 billion (USD20.3 billion) this year, with an annual growth rate of about 48 percent, more than a threefold jump from the CNY40.3 billion market in 2015, according to statistics from market consultancy Statista. Chinese consumers exhibit the fastest adoption rate of AI devices globally, with 21 percent owning a device such as a smart speaker or home robot, states the PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018. Over half of the population expects to buy such appliances in the future.
Baidu always aims to combine smart technologies with its products and life scenarios to bring AI to people's lives, and to offer more complete and customized smart home functions to users, said Jing Kun, general manager of Baidu's Duer business unit.
Editors: Emmi Laine, William Clegg