Line unveiled plans at MWC17 to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant called Clova which it said it aims to make “Asia’s leading cloud AI platform”.
Clova is short for Cloud Virtual Assistant and leverages Line’s experience with chat-based technology and parent company Naver’s search technology.
Line wants to create a “thriving ecosystem of content, services and devices with a wide range of partners, allowing the platform to continue to expand and develop over time.
The first Clova-integrated products – the Clova App and a smart speaker called Wave – will launch in Japan and Korea in the summer.
Wave is the “centrepiece” for how people will interact with Clova. Users can talk to Wave and use it to hold a natural conversation with Clova, control lights in their home or listen to music and audio books – functionality similar to Amazon’s Alexa.
“This platform represents a major step forward in digital assistants, adding new levels of naturalism, functionality and interconnectivity that have the power to change people’s relationship with technology and transform users’ lives,” the firm said.
Line’s popular messaging app has over 200 million monthly active users and the firm claims to have “an unparalleled understanding of localisation in Asia”, which it believes helped it make Clova into a “more natural and intuitive product”.
According to Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa (pictured): “AI is our most important project at Line, and represents a paradigm shift as dramatic as the rise of the smartphone a decade ago.” Clova allows Line’s “existing services to interconnect, moving users post-touch, post-display, and even post-Smart Portal.”
For the first phase of Clova, devices and apps connecting using Clova Interface Connect will be limited to those developed by Line and Naver. However, as the ecosystem expands in the second round, the platform will be opened up to third parties.
Line also announced plans to explore potential collaborations designed to take advantage of its new AI platform in a range of fields – including with Sony Mobile and toy manufacturer TOMY Company.
Line is also acquiring a majority stake in Vinclu, the creator of a holographic home assistant called Gatebox.