Chinese search giant Baidu’s new language research centre in Singapore is releasing its first consumer-facing technology after it announced its speaker verification technology is embedded in Lenovo’s latest Chinese smartphone.

The Lenovo A586 launches in China today. Thanks to the voice technology — which was developed by Baidu partner I2R and “enhanced” by the Baidu-I2R research centre (BIRC) — users will be able to unlock the device using nothing more than their voice.

The BIRC was officially opened in July – in partnership with I2R, the research arm of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research — with the aim of carrying out a range of language and speech-related research with a view to creating new products and services.

While it is interesting and cool, the speaker verification technology is a somewhat superficial launch, from a Baidu point of view. It is a proof point of the work that the centre is doing, but Baidu is aiming on developing broader linguistic technologies that will increase its revenues by paving the way to develop new localized services.

Thai, Vietnamese and Portuguese are among the languages that are being focused on, so we can expect grander, free-standing projects to come out of the Singapore-based centre in due course.

Dr. Li Haizhou, co-Director of BIRC, said that the new technology will be the first of many to come:

“We are delighted that our months of hard work and efforts are bearing fruits with the launch of the Lenovo A586 that incorporates our Speaker Verification technology. This is a strong endorsement of user-inspired research and cutting-edge speech and language technology in I2R and BIRC. We look forward to more innovative products from the Baidu and I2R partnership.”

Related: Baidu raises $1.5bn “strategic war chest” to pay off debts, pursue M&A opportunities and more

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