By Zhang Lijuan
Technological advances are making life easier and easier for many. Robotic mops now maintain clean floors. TV sets offering man-machine interaction are nothing new. And refrigerators are doing far more than chill food. As home appliances get smarter, emerging technologies like translation machines, laser TV and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming heatedly sought after in China.
Li Yu, born in the late 1980s, is a typical travel enthusiast.She just finished a vacation to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Her experience has taught her that traveling overseas now is hardly different from domestic trips thanks to the penetration of the mobile internet and new technology. “Language used to be the biggest barrier when traveling abroad,” she explained. “I had to plan everything before a trip like marking every place I wanted to go and translating and writing down sentences I might use.” New translation technology has made overseas travel easier. “I can go anywhere now and don’t have to worry about talking with locals.”
Another device she carries on every trip is a drone, which she uses to take photos from impossible perspectives like high up in the air or under water. As the unmanned aerial vehicles have become affordable consumer products, taking such photos has become easy for people like Li.
During the recent Singles’ Day shopping festival, cutting-edge tech products like Li’s once again set a new sales record.
Behind the widespread popularity of translation devices, drones and laser TV sets is increasing investment in technological research and development.
The ground-breaking iFLYTEK translation device has been a market darling since its debut. The latest model offers language services across sectors of energy, foreign trade, law, sports, computing science, finance and medicine for people traveling to close to 200 countries and regions around the world.
Users can translate across the six languages of Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Russia, Spanish and French even without an internet connection. The machine also recognizes text in images in 13 different languages and has become an indispensable tool for foreign language learners.
In March 2017, Sony launched the 100-inch Z9D flagship TV set for a price that scared off most consumers: as high as 500,000 yuan (aroundUS$71,000). “Why can’t an ordinary household enjoy a TV like this?” Projection technology wasn’t ready.
“Our Vimgo i6 home projector sold 2,000 units in two minutes after it debuted, setting an industry sales record,” reported Wang Zheng, co-founder of Chinese home projector maker Vimgo. “In less than a year, two of our models have been purchased close to 100,000 times.” More and more households and young professionals are choosing 100-inch smart home projectors for about 1,000 yuan, the price of a 50-inchTV. “An increasing number of consumers outside first-tier cities, particularly women, are buying these products.”
His start-up is committed to innovation to produce palm-size home projectors that deliver high-definition, bright images and high-resolution audio.
Drones are already widely known to the public, so tech start-ups are eyeing uncharted underwater territory. Beijing-based PowerVision is working to enhance underwater photography through unmanned devices. The company has developed a product line ranging from PowerEye to PowerEgg, PoweRay and PowerDolphin that is now sold in 91 countries and regions. Song Pengfeng, the company’s sales director for the Asia-Pacific Region, is confident about market prospects.
Reaching Southeast Asians
Among the markets where PowerVision products are available are Southeast Asian countries. In fact, many Chinese tech companies chose Southeast Asian countries as their gateway to global expansion.
According to Song, the company’s products are sold in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. With booming economies and extensive water and island resources, Southeast Asian countries wield huge potential demand for technologies like artificial intelligence to help improve productivity. “Because such places are such popular tourist destinations, the sales prospects for unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles are promising,” Song noted, adding that a local office is already in the works.
As technology continues improving in China, more and more innovative products are improving lives. While boosting consumption and business growth in China, these industries are extending benefits to countries around the world including in Southeast Asia.