Alibaba AI Labs and MediaTek unveil Smartmesh for Tmall Genie

smart home
Image credit: Alexander Kirch /

Alibaba AI Labs, which leads the development of Alibaba’s consumer artificial intelligent products, and chipset maker MediaTek have announced the first Smartmesh connectivity solution in China that supports the latest many-to-many Bluetooth mesh technology, in an effort to speed up the adoption of this technology in smart home settings.

The solution, which is based on the Alibaba AI Labs’ self-developed IoT protocol (IoTConnect) and the Bluetooth chip co-developed by both parties, enables smart home devices to automatically pair with Tmall Genie, the Labs’ first voice-controlled digital assistant, 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 manufacturers. 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). Customized Bluetooth SoCs for the solution are featured with Bluetooth smart mesh technology, automatic pairing, fast connection and low-power consumption. The two SoCs will be ready for the market in the second half of this year.

The Smartmesh solution was announced in the context of a broader strategic collaboration between Alibaba AI Labs and MediaTek in IoT initiatives including smart home protocols, customized IoT chips and AI smart hardware.

“The smart home market is undergoing tremendous growth as technologies advance,” said Jerry Yu, corporate VP and GM of MediaTek’s Home Entertainment Business Group. “With MediaTek’s strength in connectivity and baseband, computing and multimedia, coupled with Alibaba’s leading advantages in cloud computing and AI, we are confident that the collaboration will mark a milestone in the development of the IoT era.”

Miffy Chan, head of Alibaba AI Labs, added: “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, offering real benefits to consumers in China and paving the way to a more connected world through innovation.”

MediaTek already provides chip technology support for Tmall Genie, which Alibaba AI Labs launched in July last year. Over one million Tmall Genie devices were sold in China during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day e-commerce event last November.

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