​SK Telecom launches portable version of AI speaker

NUGU Mini is a portable AI speaker and an outdoor version of the NUGU speaker launched last year.

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Courtesy of SK Telecom.

SK Telecom has launched an outdoor version of its AI speaker in South Korea.

The NUGU Mini is a portable version of NUGU, the mobile carrier's AI speaker for the home that has sold over 150,000 units since launching last year.

NUGU, the name of both the speaker and the AI platform, uses a cloud-based deep-learning framework that increases its speech recognition accuracy over time.

The mobile carrier said over 130 million conversations have been stored in its cloud server. Voice recognition rate for both children and regional Korean dialects significantly increased since launching, it said.

NUGU Mini weighs 219 grams -- almost a fifth of NUGU's 1,030 grams -- and can connect to external speakers and a battery that lasts over four hours.

Users can turn on Melon, Korea's number one music streamer, use smart home features offered by SK Telecom, and control their set-top boxes.

They can also order food, manage schedules, check for weather and traffic information, enquire about currency exchange rates, and register to visit local bank branches.

NUGU Mini will cost 99,000 won ($87) but SK Telecom will offer it for 49,900 won for three months when sales begin August 11.

AI speakers and speech recognition have been a big trend in the Korean tech scene this year. Kakao, which owns the country's biggest chat app KakaoTalk, launched the Kakao Mini, its own AI speaker, and is also cooperating with compatriot car maker Hyundai for in-car speech recognition.

South Korea's largest search giant Naver and its chat app subsidiary Line also partnered with Qualcomm to make AI-based Internet of Things devices.

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