HiAi: Huawei’s First Ever AI Engine to Release With the P20


One of the many perks of the Huawei Mate 10 series of devices, other than the stunning camera setup, is the HiSilicon Kirin 970 system-on-chip. The Kirin 970 is one of the first SoCs to come with dedicated hardware for AI, in the form of a Neural Processing Unit (NPU). The Chinese market was sorely lacking an equivalent of the Google Assistant, and it looks like Huawei is the company that beat everyone else to it.

Currently, the dedicated NPU on the Kirin 970 phones is woefully underutilized and is mostly used for features such as real-time object and scene recognition in the camera app. It also helps in the functioning of the offline translation in Microsoft Translator. A dedicated NPU is capable of a lot more, and with the release of HiAi, we'll finally be able to explore some of the endless possibilities.

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According to Huawei, the HiAI Engine opens application capabilities, integrates “a plurality of AI capabilities and apps [that make] the apps more intelligent and powerful.” Huawei has also released the DDK (Driver Development Kit), SDK, and IDE for the HiAI Engine, for developers to download. Here are some of its features:

  • Scene Detection: It “rapidly categorizes” images by recognizing the scenes in the content of the image. Huawei states that recognition of multiple types of scenes is currently supported with high accuracy.
  • Document Correction and Document Detection: It’s an assistant enhancement function which can correct the angle of the document. It can also automatically recognize the location information of the document in the image.
  • Face Detection and Facial Comparison: Huawei states: “In face detection, information about the location, characteristic points, and postures of the human face in a given image is detected, and high-precision facial rectangular coordinates are returned.”
  • Image Category Label: It identifies information such as objects, scenes and behavior in an image on the basis of the deep learning method.
  • Image Super Resolution: It’s said to intelligently enlarge an image based on deep learning. It can also suppress artifacts while keeping the resolution unchanged for a clearer, sharper image.
  • Character Image Super Resolution: It can enlarge an image including characters by nine times. It can also “enhance” the definition of the characters on the image.
  • Code Detection: According to Huawei, “Code detection reads quick response (QR) codes and bar codes to obtain information included in the codes, thereby providing related services subsequently. The code detection capability is integrated in applications.”

The HiAI engine also includes a Computer vision (CV) engine which is defined as the “capabilities by which computers simulate the human visual system to sense the ambient environment and determine, recognize and understand the composition of space,” according to Huawei. Other features of the CV engine include Image Super Resolution, Facial Recognition, and Object Recognition.

The HiAI engine also includes an automatic speech recognition (ASR) engine, which, at the moment, is available only in China. The engine helps convert human voice into text, and its capabilities include speech recognition, speech conversion, and text-to-speech (TTS).

A Natural language understanding (NLU) engine is also part of the capabilities of the HiAI engine, which is also a China-only feature. It enables computers to understand human voice allowing them to perform communication or natural actions. Its capabilities include word segmentation, text entity recognition, emotive tendency analysis, and machine translation.

It's a bit disappointing that several features are restricted to the Chinese market, but we can expect to see more of HiAi, once developers from around the world optimize their apps for it.

News Source: XDA developers