Quick Take: Baidu Acquires xPerception as Competition in Sensory Computing Heats Up
Chinese tech giant Baidu announced today they will be acquiring xPerception, in what can be interpreted as a strategic play for the Augmented Reality market.
At face value, xPerception covers much of 2017 in tech’s buzzwords: AI, AR and Deep Learning. It also compliments the acquisition Baidu made earlier this year of Raven Tech, another start-up which focused on AI though positioning itself more around Big Data and as a Next-Gen operating system. With new paradigms emerging in recent years pertaining to the expansion of the internet’s sensory vocabulary, we have already seen the Amazon Echo device quietly become a best-seller and in turn setting the pace for what appears to be tech's next major framework following the smartphone.
Baidu are certainly not alone in pursuing this space. An outlier in Apple’s conventional strategy, Tim Cook has strongly hinted that Augmented Reality will be a core aspect of the company’s future hardware releases. MIDiA Research has additionally written in the past of different tech player’s potential in the emerging AR ecosystem. For example, Snapchat’s engaged audience and camera-centric product gifts a brand recognition advantage, though Baidu's data leverage could also prove beneficial in offering consumers a valuable proposition.
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Retaining significant audience share in one of these spaces will be critical for future revenue, and Baidu may have taken heed from the predictions of analysts that devices such as the Echo and embryonic hardware in the mould of Augmented Reality could disrupt the core search businesses of Google. With Baidu often perceived as the equivalent of Google in Asia, they will likely be wary of any emerging hardware’s capacity for undermining key ad-based revenue streams. With strong competition from Alibaba and Tencent in this space, shoring up their AR capabilities will prove crucial if they are to continue their influential position in one of tech’s largest markets.