Thursday, 05 April 2018 12:00

OPPO opens new research institute to target AI and 5G

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After the news OPPO has given up on Blu-Ray players, its new direction is "cutting edge research in software, hardware and mobile standards" including AI and 5G.

OPPO, which specialises in making smartphones that look like unabashed, unashamed iPhone clones, presumably to make the transition for users on older iPhones easier than it would otherwise be on other more Android-like phones running Android, has launched a major new research institute in Shenzhen, China, focusing on AI, 5G and much more. 

Quite how OPPO gets away with its "homage" to Apple without massive lawsuits from the company is unknown, but OPPO does what it does without repercussion, and unquestionably enjoys popularity, especially amongst its vaunted "youth" market, who are, again presumably, much happier with OPPO's more affordable pricing than Apple's or those of flagship Android competitors.

Indeed, OPPO is not only targeting young people, but describes itself as a "cameraphone manufacturer", given the importance with which so many people assign to the camera today for selfies, Instagram snapshots of food, Snapchats, YouTube videos, everyday photos and everything else.

And, in what is clearly an attempt to stay at the forefront of technology, it comes as no surprise to see OPPO investing its resources into the future, with its new "OPPO Research Institute" to "focus on researching the latest technologies, innovation based on user’s needs and aims to put OPPO at the forefront of the mobile industry".

Now, spending huge amounts of money on R&D is no guarantee of success, but it doesn't hurt either, with OPPO's new Institute, based in China's equivalent of Silicon Valley, Shenzhen.

The company says its Institute will support its other research centres in "Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Japan (Yokohama), and the US (Silicon Valley)".

OPPO says that all of these centres will "conduct cutting-edge research in software, hardware, and mobile standards".

OPPO chief executive Tony Chen said: “The OPPO Research Institute is an investment in our future, beyond the existing R&D system. With its various affiliated research centres, and our flexible and dedicated research and cooperation with external partners, OPPO will further improve its innovation capabilities.

“We strive to take the lead in the development and application of AI, 5G, and other technologies so we can continue to offer the perfect products, combining art and technology. Our goal is always to satisfy and surpass users’ needs.”

To help OPPO continue its innovations in AI, OPPO has also announced a "partnership with Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, establishing the OPPO-Stanford Collaboration Lab to explore Artificial Intelligence front end technologies and applications".

Furthermore, OPPO states that it is "already co-operating on 5G with New York University, Beijing Technology University, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) Standards Research Institute".

Levin Liu, president of the Institute, says he "believes the new Institute and partnerships will improve OPPO’s competitiveness and build on its mobile-firsts in the market, such as VOOC Flash Charge".

Liu added: “The foundation of the OPPO Research Institute demonstrates the company’s persistence and continuous input for technology R&D.

“The research institute will focus on software, hardware, and standards, centring on 5G, AI, image processing, new materials and other new technologies. It will carry out the initial research research, to build the technology foundations to improve the competitiveness of OPPO’s products in the future".

Proudly boasting of "years of consistent progress", OPPO says it is "continuing to improve its overall R&D capabilities" and that "with technologies such as VOOC flash charge and AI smart photography, OPPO is now at the global forefront of fast charging, photography, and other core mobile technologies".

Of course there is no mention of user interface or user experience design, because OPPO knows that for this part of its business, it is tapping into Apple's R&D department for all of its inspiration, but I guess this saves the company a lot of money which it can instead spend on AI, 5G, photography and more as it has described.

In addition, OPPO points to the future, and says that with “users’ needs” and “key technologies” as driving forces, the new Institute "will help to realise further advanced innovation and transform small breakthroughs in to profound new developments in mobile technology".

Finally, OPPO is pronounced "oh-poe" as opposed to "op" as in op-shop, but personally "oh-poe" just doesn't sound right, and I rebel in simply calling it "oppo" as the way you'd start to pronounce "opportunity", but with "poe" rather than "por". That said, that isn't the correct pronunciation, so there you go – now you know the right way to say Oh-Poe!

There is also no connection with Edgar Allan, or Dameron, or at least, none that we know of, but coming away from future legal entanglements, may the force be poetically strong with us all. 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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