In 3 years, thanks to the strong investment from Vingroup, with a team of more than 200 engineers and scientists, VinBigData has gradually realized the aspiration to master core technologies, thereby, transforming international research projects into actual high-tech products, representing the hearts and minds of Vietnamese intellectuals and serving the lives of Vietnamese people.
When will Vietnamese technology be put on the global map?
The question resounded in the mind of Bao Nuong, a Vietnamese international student in France, when visiting the Mercedes-Benz automobile museum in July 2018. Nevertheless, it only took Nuong three months to find the answer. On October 2, 2018, one day after joining Vingroup, Bao Nuong witnessed the event that went down in the history of the Vietnamese automobile industry – the first two VinFast models rolled proudly in front of a large international audience at Paris Motor Show.
And less than three years later, the answer for the development of Vietnam’s science and technology has become clearer for Nuong in particular and for the Vietnamese technology community in general. In only one week in August 2021, Vingroup’s Big Data Research Institute (VinBigData) introduced two high-tech products in turns: Level 4 self-driving electric cars with large payload (23 seats), which is the second highest level for self-driving technology, and Vietnamese voice assistant ViVi. These debuts step by step affirmed the technological capacity of Vietnamese people
With Bao Nuong, the latter memories are more special to her since she has, to some extent, witnessed the development and formation of those two products. “Beyond pride, I am more and more confident in VinBigData, in Vingroup, in technology capacity and in our vision which is not inferior to any international organization or enterprise.”
And that belief, perhaps not only to Bao Nuong, but also to all VinBigData people, represents the fire to light up our hopes. Used to think that voice assistants or self-driving cars are future technologies which would take Vietnam years and lots of resources to catch up with the world, yet now, seeing these achievements with his own eyes, Vu Hong Dan clearly feels the journey of VinBigData, which is “Bringing technology from research works to practical application, making the impossible possible and bringing breakthrough values that affirm Vietnam’s technological capacity. ”
Dang Bao Nuong (Marketing & Partners Relations Department, VinBigData)
Vu Hong Dan (Medical Image Processing Center, VinBigData)
Dedication to a technology product that Vietnam can be proud of
“In the past, when making products, I just thought that I would do my best to bring maximum profits to the company. But now, I don’t think about how much money ViVi will earn, but to wish it would be a shining example for Vietnamese intelligence.” – Do Thi Thuy Ngan shares her motivation and her colleagues’ at Virtual Assistant Technology Center when participating in the project.
And that motivation has fueled the “24/7 working machines”. Ngan still vividly remembers the image of teammates: “their beards are growing, their hair is getting salt and pepper, yet none of them pays any attention”, or the image of young interns “working up to 200-300% of their strength without any complaint”.
The public’s recent warm welcome toward ViVi is the reward for the hard work of the team. Thuy Ngan and her teammates understand that ViVi will contribute to the affirmation of the organization’s technology capacity, and will be the one product to compete fair and square with other famous solutions in the market in terms of quality of data processing and Vietnamese conversations. ViVi is the voice assistant by Vietnamese people, for Vietnamese people.
Do Thi Thuy Ngan (Virtual Assistant Techonology Center, VinBigData)
03 years – Journey from international research to breakthrough technology products
Voice assistant ViVi, level 4 self-driving electric vehicle, AI solution for VinDr medical imaging diagnosis or advanced genetic technology for Vietnamese people, etc., are all initial achievements that VinBigData team obtained after three devoting years. Gathering overseas Vietnamese intellectuals under one roof, VinBigData has step by step sought to find solutions to “problems if the Vietnamese don’t do them, who will”. At the dawn of the organization in August 2018, VinBigData was gradually established from the hands and minds of Vietnamese intellectuals returning from the US, Germany, France, Korea, etc.
Starting from the orientation established three years ago, Dr. Nguyen Kim Anh (Director of Virtual Assistant Technology Center), a former expert at Amazon, nurtured the idea of a chatbot platform or a virtual assistant for Vietnamese people, similar to Google’s products. Accompanying him is Dr. Mac Dang Khoa, Dr. Dang Tran Thai, Dr. Nguyen Van Huy, engineer Nguyen Viet Ha, and many teammates – who are experienced, and share one vision and one ambition about Vietnamese technology
“Not just now, but the desire to develop products like ViVi, in fact, kindled in me from the first day I joined VinBigData. Once one chooses technology as the career path, in order to survive in the industry, one must show a product as the end result, not just mere research. That’s also why in the first place, I always put research vs. product development ratio at 40:60 or 50:50, never 100% or 80% on research.”
Considering the product as the goal and research as a solid foundation to master core technologies, at Virtual Assistant Technology Center, a product is the crystallization of dozens and hundreds of different studies. “When starting to make products, the key factor no longer lies in the numbers that represent the answers to the problems, but also in the consideration toward the needs of the majority. Focusing only on the application of the numbers can be at the expense of customer satisfaction, or the delay of the system in its ability to process requests.” – the former Amazon expert shared.
Therefore, in order to assemble research results into products, it must go through a process of testing and quality assessment, under close coordination of a team of experts and engineers. This is also the process that Technology Virtual Assistant Center is implementing for solutions for chatbots, voicebots, multi-function voice assistants, etc.
Not just based on Speech and Language Processing, VinBigData always evaluates scientific research as the root of technology mastery in other fields such as Computer Vision, Biomedical Informatics and Medical Image Processing. Three years, with a total number of 36 scientific works published in the world’s leading conferences and journals; ranked high at international competitions and cooperated with 42 units and organizations from developed countries such as the US, UK, Israel, Australia, Singapore… VinBigData’s capability in doing research has been affirmed. This will be a “luggage” for the whole team to firmly step into a new phase – creating world-class products by the hands and minds of Vietnamese people.
Forever the start-up spirit
Following a three-year journey with remarkable scientific research achievements, along with technology products that have been formed, the entire team of intellectuals at VinBigData is ready for a new journey – towards technological products with high applicability, contributing to improving the quality of life of Vietnamese people.
“Resonating the power of hundreds of Vietnamese hearts and minds, taking advantage of the huge database typical of Vietnamese people, VinBigData will focus on creating products and solutions that prove the company’s resilience on the international playground. The new journey does not stop at scientific research, but takes scientific research as the root, VinBigData remains steadfast with its mission which is Vietnamese Technology for the future of Vietnam” – Prof, Vu Ha Van affirmed.
Focusing on product development means that VinBigData will not accept to stay in place or be satisfied with current achievements, but is determined to reach out to the big sea, ready to face difficulties and challenges.
Dr. Dao Duc Minh (CEO of VinBigData) shared “To VinBigData, the biggest challenge is to prove our capacity to society. VinBigData currently has many internal breakthroughs, already has a strong technology and technical foundation, therefore the next goal is to create products that are recognized by the people.”
Besides the challenges, Mr. Nguyen Duc Long – Director of Product Development Center, VinBigData – former Project Director of Philips Ultrasound (USA) also realized that “the opportunity for VinBigData to penetrate into the market will be bigger, with many millions of users, thereby, the meaning of the product is well-spreaded. This is also the final goal that VinBigData aims at: to create the most benefits for the community. ”
And most of all, on the upcoming journey, VinBigData’s launch pad will continue to be “fed” by the simple “fuel” – “The utmost happiness of people who do research and product development is when they see their products reach the public and is welcome and utilized by the public, not just a mere scientific work on paper,” – Mr. Kim Anh recalls the sharing of his teammates from the first days. With this motivation, and the spirit of “Determined to fight, determined to win”, VinBigData is gradually realizing our aspirations, transforming research projects into actual high-tech products “For a better life for everyone”.