WeChat voice recognition on public accounts: how to do it.

Thomas Graziani New WeChat features

The WeChat voice recognition account “Chumen wenwen” (出门问问)- “Go out and ask” is carrying a simple function: you can ask him any kind of questions an he will answer (what is the weather in Beijing, what supermarkets are there around Zhongguancun, etc…).

This high-tech function is actually easy to develop. Indeed, few people know that WeChat certified service accounts come with integrated voice recognition abilities.

Let’s now take a closer look at the case of “Chumen wenwen”, what they did, why it was smart, and how you can apply it to your own business.

Innovating through recombining what’s already there

Chumen Wenwen looks like a high-tech prowess: an app that can answer any of your questions through WeChat voice recognition (and it’s actually pretty good at it: it can even understand the French accent of the author of this article)


They actually do rely on quite a bit of proprietary software: the company, created by a former Google engineer, developed a voice recognition called Mobvoi and secured funding from Sequoia Capital.

However, a similar result can be obtained by combining two existing and free solutions:

  • WeChat voice recognition: all certified WeChat service account benefit from a voice recognition feature: it can translate any spoken message in Mandarin in the corresponding chain of Chinese characters
  • WeChat auto-answering robot: a free api already exists which enables to give automatic answers to a wide range of messages such as weather, information about train tickets, flights, etc…

This is not to say that the result you will get will be exactly similar to what “Chumen wenwen” is doing: they have been developing their own software and database for a while. But developing similar applications is actually much closer to your reach than you might think.

The next step: from WeChat to native app

Once proof of concept was successful through their WeChat public account, “Chumen wenwen” got to work and started developing their native app. The native app contains more information that the public account, and also more ways for “Chumen wenwen” to monetise. For instance they can display news or promotions in the front page.


This is an interesting case of what is becoming a major trend for app developers in China: developing a lite version of your app via WeChat, and lead them to your native app if they want to access the full version. This is a great way for game or service providers to leverage the extensive reach of WeChat.

Moreover, by leveraging modern technologies like PhoneGap, you can develop a single web-APP and use it on all WeChat, iOS, Android and Windows phone, thus considerably reducing development costs.

What about YOUR own version of Siri leveraging WeChat voice recognition?

Now you can start thinking of how these tools could be used for your own company: voice recognition, geo-localization and many other functions are integrated into WeChat public accounts or can easily be integrated to them. All that’s necessary is figure out how they can be leveraged to better serve your customers.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

There are two main mistakes made by agencies delivering WeChat platforms for companies: they overcharge for things which are already available off-the-shelf and are quick to implement. Or worst: they rebuild software from scratch when better open source versions are already available. This mixture of deceit and ignorance has huge detrimental impact on clients.

So whenever you are developing for WeChat, make sure you are not reinventing the wheel: there are a lot of open-source frameworks and tools out there which enable to keep projects on track and on budget. And ask WalktheChat if you want to know more.

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