China’s first AI sign language presenter in place as Beijing Winter Olympics kicks off

China’s first AI sign language presenter has started her duties at the 2022 Winter Olympics, officially kicking off with the opening ceremony taking place in Beijing on 4 February. The virtual host launched jointly by China’s state media CCTV and Baidu AI Cloud (an intelligent cloud computing brand under Baidu), made a debut last November and will be serving hearing-impaired audiences 24/7 throughout the international winter sports event, which is set to conclude on 20 February.

Not too long into her role, there was a video where the AI presenter took on the competition with one of CCTV’s most popular presenters, Zhu Guangquan, which went viral garnering millions of views online. Going by the nickname of “sign language nemesis”, Zhu is the most feared host for sign language practitioners across this country, owing to his talents in incorporating Chinese poems and songs into his freestyle TV narratives at a fast speed; something extremely difficult for human sign language hosts to keep up with.

However, all of those challenges have been dealt with by the AI host at ease, thanks to the natural action engine and sign language translation engine developed by Baidu. This is an impressive feat and shows the technical capabilities not only of the AI but also of the company.

By integrating speech recognition, machine translation, and other intelligent technologies, the Baidu AI Cloud is able to build an accurate sign language translator for text, audio, and video contents. These translations can then be drawn by the AI presenter, who appears as a young woman with a natural and friendly disposition and be delivered into the right expressions in real-time. Such achievements have been described as a frog leap in “overcoming the barrier of sound with technology”, naturally driving up the brand value and ability of Baidu within the fiercely competitive tech space.

With approximately 28 million people in China experiencing hearing loss, and around 430 million across the world who are hearing impaired, the employment of this technology will keep viewers who are suffering hearing disabilities worldwide informed on the latest updates on the Games while not missing out on the excitement of international sports event. By being inclusive China is able to showcase its technological advancements and care for people across the world, fostering a positive appeal globally.

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