Plenty of AI voice assistants have human names and friendly voices. But they aren’t human, and nowhere is that more obvious than their lack of understanding tone: Sarcasm is completely lost on assistants because they can’t pick up contextual clues like a human can.

Huawei says they want to change all that by creating a voice assistant that responds to a human’s emotional state -- citing Scarlett Johansson’s AI Samantha from the film Her as an inspiration.

“Samantha is a dream for all the engineers,” a Huawei executive told CNBC. “Like in the movie, you can even get rid of your girlfriend.”

Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro has its own Chinese-speaking voice assistant XiaoE for the domestic market. (Picture: Bloomberg)

Huawei has invested heavily in AI, and promotes it as a way to differentiate its products from competitors. It says the Mate 10 Pro is the first handset with an NPU -- or neural processing unit -- dedicated to AI tasks.

It’s used in the camera to recognize objects, allowing it to select appropriate settings for taking a photo. Huawei even used it to recognise obstacles in front of a self-driving car at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Huawei didn’t specify how far along it is in making the new voice assistant, or when it would be released.

“We think that, in the future, all our end users wish [that] they can interact with the system in the emotional mode,” a Huawei executive said. “This is the direction we see in the long run.”