Category Archives: Tech

Shenzhen IT shopping area goes 5G

It seems only fitting that the neighbourhood of Shenzhen once renowned for knockoffs of IT gadgets is today the first to switch over to 5G. 

Huaqiangbei, which has cleaned up its piracy act in recent years, is still a must-visit place in Shenzhen for anyone wanting to see what a Chinese electronics market looks like. The place is insanely packed and carries every piece of equipment that could remotely be called electronic. Now, it is the country’s first “city block” to be fully 5G-operational, which allows it to host demonstrations of all sorts of new, high-bandwidth applications.

According to the Shenzhen Daily News, the three major telco operators have set up the main base stations in the area and are now laying indoor sub-base stations inside the major malls and shops. These include SEG, Huaqiang, Gome, Suning, Shundian, Maoye and others.

Already working are some outdoor applications around the market’s main areas, while an indoor “experience pavilion” is under way. Some of these include: VR-based interactive games, 360-degree 8K panoramic VR live broadcast, remote driving, VR-based cloud games, remote ultrasound diagnosis, 3D vision screening, AR industrial inspection, AI face recognition.

We will get across their soon and shoot a video of it. Stay tuned.

Shenzhen Metro Line goes ‘all-brush’

One-upmanship between Guangzhou and Shenzhen over AI-driven subway technology is continuing to provide reporters with fun material. Last week, Guangzhou opened two “Smart Stations” on its Metro, powered by AI algorithms. This week it is Shenzhen’s turn to promote the rollout of automated customer service kiosks and announce the entire Metro Line 11 now has “brush-face” gates.

The new customer service kiosks allow riders to register their faces for purchasing tickets, topping up their Metro cards, and other services. Initially, only those who get to ride the line for free can use them to register for “face-brushing”, but they will be upgraded soon for paid ticketing. In the meantime, everyone can use the kiosks for performing a variety of other transactions. 

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Shenzhen splashes startup cash

Shenzhen wants everyone to be an entrepreneur, it seems. The city has doubled basic allowances for “startups” and widened their definition to include, well, just about the entire population that works for itself, rather than for corporate titans such as Huawei, Tencent, and Ping An, from what we can see.

According to the Shenzhen Daily News, the basic subsidy for “start-up enterprises”, which can be individuals, has been doubled, from RMB 5,000 to RMB 10,000 yuan. In the case of “partnerships”, i.e., limited liability companies, it goes from RMB 50,000 to RMB 100,000.

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Unmanned ships on the way

Robotaxis are passé. Unmanned aerial vehicles are a crowded space. Self-guided ships seem like the next natural frontier of development in autonomous vehicles – and one in which Zhuhai appears determined to take the lead.

The country’s first unmanned ship R&D and testing base, the Xiangshan Marine Science and Technology Port, was officially completed recently and is expected to open before the end of the year. According to Nanfang Daily, the base will become a “public technology service and innovation incubation platform” for the design, research and development of marine-based unmanned systems and intelligent equipment.

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Tencent planning new credit service

Technode reports today on local media reports in the mainland suggesting that Tencent is planning to join the fray with Alibaba and in the consumer-lending market, rolling out a service on its WeChat Pay that allows users to take out loans repayable in instalments.

The credit service, driven by new types of data modelling, has been booming, led by the two e-commerce giants, but Tencent has lagged. It has not been without controversy, with many reports suggesting these tech giants are responsible for an alarming rise in household debt in China, just as the economy has been slowing.

What we are more interested in is to see whether the eight new virtual-banking licensees in Hong Kong are able to follow this lead, and at what pace the HKMA will allow them to do so. Hong Kong’s banking sector has had a reputation for conservatism in personal lending. Will the new entrants, with savvier data-driven business models, blow this market open? It remains to be seen.

Guangzhou opens ‘Smart Stations’

Guangzhou media are buzzing today with the opening of the provincial capital’s first “smart station” demonstration, delivered by tech giant Tencent.

The demo was set up at two stations – Tianhe Smart City Station and Guangzhou Tower. Features on display included “brush-face” scanners, customer service robots, auto-adjusted lighting. “More importantly, however,” the local media pointed out, station managers can manage everything going on in the station, including scheduling, without much direct involvement, i.e. letting the algorithms do the work.

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Huawei commits Kunpeng to home base

We thought there was something strange about Huawei’s recent decision to set up its major hub for Kunpeng, the new “chip ecosystem” it is developing, in Shanghai.  

Why there? Huawei is a son of Shenzhen. We can understand why it would build a new campus in Dongguan’s Songshan Lake, as that is literally just up the road from its headquarters in Shenzhen’s Longgang district. But Shanghai is on the eastern seaboard, part of the Yangtze River Delta and is Shenzhen’s biggest competitor, er, comrade. 

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Zhaoqing lands RMB10bn industrial park

Zhaoqing, the municipality to the north of Guangzhou, has landed a major investment project. Last week a signing ceremony was held for the Zhongke Ruilong industrial park, which will develop high-end precision new materials. The investment amount of RMB10.6 billion is one of the largest in the Zhaoqing High-Tech Zone.

Guangdong Zhongke Ruilong Technology Development Company was established in Dongguan in 2007. Focused on R&D and application of new materials, and precision cold-drawing technology, it has been engaged with the China Academy of Science & Technology Development in the metal and battery industries for many years. The company has world-leading technology, mainly for the processing of metal molds of well-known branded mobile phones and the production of accessories.

The new park will build bases of battery shells for smartphones, smart watches and new-energy vehicles as well as high-end battery precision accessories. Its output is expected to reach RMB12 billion annually when completed.

Read more in Chinese.

Guangzhou OLED plant fires up

The world’s largest and most advanced production facility for OLED screens opened this week in Guangzhou. Led by Korea’s LG Group, the facility cost RMB46 billion to build and is expected to crank up to annual output of RMB20 billion by 2021.

The new facility is only the most advanced within a cluster of at least 30 upstream and downstream companies that has grown up in the Huangpu district. By 2021, the combined output of this cluster, led by LG, is expected to reach RMB120 billion. Moreover, that is only half of the city’s overall output in the display-panel industry, which is projected to hit RMB250 billion this year.

As the first large-size OLED panel production line established by LG Display overseas, the plant produces 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch panels with 4K ultra-high-definition. CEO Han Sang-Beom said the facility will become the leading force in the global panel industry, and a “strategic base for accelerating the OLED trend.” Local officials are clearly pleased that it will also raise the city’s role as a center of cutting-edge manufacturing in the GBA.