The Google of China wants to take on Alexa

With a dedication to conversational AI and a camera with facial recognition, Baidu Little Fish hopes to stand out from the Amazon Echo copycats.

Andrew Gebhart

Andrew Gebhart

Senior Producer

Andrew loves writing about cool, futuristic technology. He's reviewed everything from vacuum cleaners to beer brewing robots in pursuit of the perfect smart home. He wants the smart home to make him feel powerful, and it's getting there.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We're seeing quite a few Alexa voice assistant copycats at CES this year. Each promises to be unique in some way, but all offer the same basic tricks that the Amazon Echo has offered for a couple of years -- control your smart home, play music and provide personal assistance. A product called the Little Fish looks at first glance to be yet another knockoff, but given that it's from the Chinese internet giant Baidu -- known as "the Google of China" -- the Little Fish might just have the clout to keep up.

Unlike the Amazon Echo or the Google Home, the Baidu Little Fish has a large screen to display additional information after you ask a question. It also has a camera, with which it can supposedly recognize your face and customize its answers accordingly. You'll be able to hold video chats on a Little Fish, and stream videos directly to the screen.

Check out all the smart home products at CES 2017 (so far)

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Otherwise, expect the usual Echo functionality. Baidu will try to get a leg up on these fronts with advanced AI for a more conversational assistant. That's how Google tried to beat the Echo, with the conversational Google Assistant, but Alexa keeps making strides on this front as well. We're still waiting for a digital assistant to perfect natural give-and-take-in voice commands. Perhaps Baidu can be the one to pull this off.

The Baidu Little Fish was on display at CES last week in Las Vegas. No word yet on pricing, availability or even what smart home platforms it'll work with.

Editors' note, January 9, 2017: After some back and forth on the name, the company settled on Little Fish over Fishhome.

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