Line banks on AI in push to widen services

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SOCIAL MEDIA operator Line Corp plans to put artificial intelligence (AI) at the heart of its service offerings.

The Japanese-based company yesterday said a focus on AI would be one of its main strategies over the next five years.

Chief executive Takeshi Idezawa said the embrace of AI would fulfil the company’s mission of taking its services to the next level – by, as Line puts it, “Closing the Distance” in the post-smartphone era .

The CEO’s comments came as Line launched its first products under the Clova cloud AI platform: Wave, Champ and Face.

Wave is described as a smart speaker designed for smart-home devices. It can be used to maintain calendars and to-do lists and users can “talk” with it to get information about things such as the weather. They can also use it to turn on and off infrared remote-supported appliances, and engage in casual conversations. Users can control chat messages on the Line app via Wave.

Champ is also a Clova-powered smart speaker in the form of what the company calls its Line Friends characters, and is said to be a “more casual” and more portable version of Wave.

Line says its has worked with partners to have the Clova cloud AI platform embedded into other products and services. It has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore business opportunities using the Smart Device Link, a technology standard promoted by Toyota and other companies that connects cars with smartphone and tablet apps. It has also signed MOUs with FamilyMart and Itochu to promote the collaborative development of products, technologies and services for the so-called next generation of stores being developed by the retailers. These will be linked to Line’s Clova cloud AI platform and other services.

The company says such Initiatives represent the first steps towards Line’s goal of “creating a world in which AI blends into every device and every environment in everyday life, all through Clova”.

Line, which is one of the most popular social media platforms in Thailand, plans to release Clova to third parties to work with content and service partners and device partners to build what it calls an ecosystem and expand the platform.

Under the company’s vision of “Everything Connected”, Line says the latest developments “are designed to continue the evolution of the Line app beyond a communication tool by adding features and concepts to make people’s life more convenient, richer and more fun”.

Line is used by local governments – including those for the cities of Shibuya, Fukuoka and Kumamoto – for sending out messages on government services. The company has announced an agreement with Japan’s Cabinet Office, under which the latter’s Mynaportal service has been linked to the Line messaging app.

The company also has high hopes for its video offerings. Under Line’s “Everything Videolized” concept, users can watch services such as Line Live and Line TV, which are popular among teens and young women.

Line Live grown into a video distribution platform with more than 13 million monthly active users. Line has announced additional features in a bid to expand the service.

The Nation
Republished with permission from The Nation
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