Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launched the smart speaker Tmall Genie X1 today, elbowing its way into the crowded digital voice assistant market where there’re already big name incumbents like Amazon, Apple, Google, and JD (their main e-commerce competitor).

Powered by a custom Smart Audio chip, the 126mm-tall virtual assistant speaker supports an 6-beam microphone array on the top and a subwoofer at the lower part of the device. The gadget needs less than 10 seconds to get connected to the network, outperforming the average of 30 seconds for most current smart home devices on the market.

Enabled by AliGenie, the voice assistant service developed by Alibaba’s homegrown team, Tmall Genie X1 allows users to control with verbal commands. Voice print technology ensures more accurate and secure commands, allowing users not only to purchase from Alibaba’s shopping sites but also to make payments through the device.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.