China has never been a hotbed for operating system (OS) development. Nearly half of the country’s OS market share is controlled by Google’s Android, with another quarter belonging to Microsoft’s Windows.

That isn’t to say that it has not been a part of the process of creating an operating system. In 2001, researchers at the country’s National University of Defense Technology began developing an OS specifically designed for use by China’s military and other government departments.

Dubbed Kylin, the OS was first based on FreeBSD and later on Linux. In 2015, NeoKylin was launched, with the hope that it would replace Windows on the country’s computers.  Other locally developed OSs include China Operating System, which was intended for use on mobile devices and set-top boxes.

Rokid co-founder Eric Wong says that while China has a strong pool of AI and machine learning talents, the same is not true for operating system development.

“There aren’t too many development talents in OS platforms [in China],” Wong said at TechCrunch Hangzhou. “In the US, there are lots of OS developers.”

Despite this, the country has seen some drastic improvements in its AI capabilities over the past ten years.

The company itself is looking to develop an AI operating system for its products and those of other companies. And given the excess of AI talent in the country, it may be a good place to start. “We are doing a turnkey or full-stack solution where we are going to provide a voice interactive solution, not only for our product but also opening it up to the whole industry,” he said.

“In the AI period, there are no AI OSs. Big companies have plans, [but] we can’t wait for the development,” he said.

In order to leverage China’s talents in the development of the AI OS, Wang says that standards are very important, adding that the company is building a community development platform.

“We really encourage individual developers to come to the R&D platform and hope to provide a standard software development kit (SDK) for everyone,” he said. “We are actually designing for the future and making future standards.”

The company is also looking to provide a range of AI-enabled products. It recently revealed a number of new pieces of hardware, including a portable smart speaker, AR glasses, and a voice-first AI chip.

The company previously told TechNode that it found developing AI products on multi-purpose chips was power consuming and costly, which is a definite disadvantage to the development of the technology.

Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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