Huawei helps Schubert tackle some unfinished business with AI composer

  • Huawei to release its first foldable 5G smartphone and showcase 5G achievements at four-day event in Spain
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2019, 5:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 February, 2019, 4:56pm

In 1822, German composer Franz Schubert began his symphony No 8, but never completed it.

Fast forward to 2019 and Huawei Technologies, the Chinese smartphone and telecommunications network equipment maker mired in a high-profile legal battle with the US government, said it has finished the "Unfinished Symphony" with the help of artificial intelligence.

A complete version of the 200-year-old masterpiece will be released at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the company said. 

“Using the power of AI and the help of award-winning composers, Huawei taught its smartphone to finish it,” the company said in a 35-second advertising clip posted on YouTube Wednesday.” Amazing things happen when you combine technology with human expertise.”

In the clip, Huawei's flagship smartphones are showcased alongside musicians, ending with a tagline, “The Unfinished symphony – All will be revealed February 2019”.

“The [Huawei] work will bring one more possibility to Schubert’s unfinished symphony and is a nice way to try,” said Clarence Mak, associate dean of the School of Music at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

At the academy, students already take a course in algorithmic composition, according to Mak. “Like it or not, learning to compose alongside a computer is a must and will have no small impact on the younger generation of artists,” he said.

The teaser campaign comes after Huawei scaled down its presence at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it only unveiled a few laptop computers for the US market.

MWC, on the other hand, will get more of its attention, as Huawei is due to release its first foldable 5G smartphone and exhibit its latest achievements in 5G network technology at the four-day mobile industry event in Spain. Many countries on the European continent remain friendly to the Chinese company. 

How the US indictments may play out for Huawei

Nonetheless, Huawei will double down on presentations of its efforts to allay security and privacy concerns after recent reports suggest a growing number of European countries are raising their scrutiny of its products after US claims that the company has close ties with the Chinese government, a charge the company has consistently denied.

Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment supplier, has been embroiled in an escalating Sino-US trade war and now faces nearly two dozen charges by the US, ranging from trade secrets theft to money laundering and bank fraud. Its chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is currently on bail in Canada, awaiting an extradition trial to face charges including conspiracy and wire fraud.

Regardless, Huawei is pushing ahead with its new publicity blitz. Former football player Michael Owen has become the latest celebrity to endorse Huawei on social media platforms.

“Better battery and an amazing camera, I wish I’d done it sooner,” the ex-Liverpool and England striker said in a clip posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday, with a line “I’ve made some big switches in my career, but this one with @HuaweiMobileUK has been easier than most”. The clip has had over 62,700 views.