Meet Kiki – the first Vietnamese voice-controlled virtual assistant

Zalo Kiki

Zalo has officially launched Kiki, an AI-based virtual assistant to help Vietnamese people to perform a variety of daily tasks.

At the 4th annual Zalo AI Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Zalo officially introduced Kiki, the first voice assistant tailor-made for all Vietnamese. Kiki is the result of Zalo’s research and development into AI and is considered the first virtual assistant created by and for Vietnamese people to communicate based on its understanding of Vietnamese language, habits, and culture.

“Zalo has been doing research and development in AI technology with an emphasis on creating AI-first products, including voice assistants. Voice is the most natural communication tool for humans. It may become the standard way for us to communicate with computers in the years to come, as the natural language ability of AI continues to develop at a rapid pace. The development of this virtual assistant shows the world-class qualifications and ambition of Vietnamese engineers who are fostering AI research and applying artificial intelligence in Vietnam,” said Mr Vuong Quang Khai – Senior Executive Vice President of VNG Corporation and President of Zalo Group.

A more convenient and productive life – just by asking

Kiki can be accessed from the Zalo app or integrated with smart devices such as smart cars and smart speakers and any device using the Zing MP3 music application, which is owned by Zalo and has around 30 million monthly users.

It is capable of working perfectly on a smart car, providing hands-free and eyes-free experience where drivers can easily check directions to avoid traffic jams, find locations, hear the latest news, play music, or send a text without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel. Its voice command interface uses as few steps as possible – users ask questions or give commands to Kiki by simply saying “Kiki ơi” followed by their request.

On a smart speaker, Kiki can be considered as a personal virtual assistant, fully integrating functions that make life more convenient, including playing music or news, telling stories, doing math, converting foreign currencies, translating to other languages, taking notes, scheduling appointments, and answering user questions. Many of the functions specifically cater to Vietnamese culture, such as checking the lunar calendar and announcing winning lottery numbers.

Kiki’s integration with Zing MP3 means that users can use simple verbal commands to request songs by name, artist, or lyrics, play, pause, adjust volume, save songs, and manage playlists.

Kiki also has an educational component that is useful for students of all ages, as it can quickly search online for the answers to both basic and advanced spoken questions and provide information in a variety of academic fields – without the need to open a new tab and scroll through results.

Finally, Kiki’s intuitive voice controls make it especially useful to vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the visually impaired. By speaking to the machine as if they are communicating with a human, these individuals can perform tasks which they may otherwise find challenging such as reading messages, making calls, texting, and looking up information online.

A virtual assistant by Vietnamese, for Vietnam

AI has developed rapidly in recent years, and several global leading technology corporations have their own virtual assistant platforms, including Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Assistant. Each of these virtual assistants was developed to make life easier, but they are not designed to understand or speak Vietnamese.

Kiki is built on many of the same technologies that those other companies have used, including AI technology and Knowledge Graph, and uses a foundation of big data to perform important tasks like language understanding, semantic analysis, and voice emulation – but with a specific focus on catering to Vietnamese people. It is trained to recognize Vietnamese in dialects from the northern, southern, and central regions.

“Artificial Intelligence has begun to have a great impact on human life by enabling people to complete tasks far more efficiently. Now with Kiki, Vietnamese people are no longer left out of AI’s benefits,” Mr Vuong Quang Khai said.

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