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Even 99 iPhones Not Enough to Win One Woman’s Heart

Posted: 11/10/2014 9:30 am

Since the inception of Singles’ Day in China several years ago, millions of singles throughout the country celebrate the day by trying to woo that special someone. Yet one young Guangzhou resident chose a rather unique method to express his love in the lead up to November 11: iPhones, and lots of them.

There’s been no shortage of reports detailing extravagant Singles’ Day gifts such as a new car, or giant diamonds, but one Guangzhou programmer instead opted for 99 iPhone 6s. To his credit, he organized the phones in the shape of heart before proposing to his girlfriend in front of a sizeable crowd of friends and onlookers.

The phones reportedly cost the man over RMB 500,000 (about $82,000), or roughly the equivalent of two years’ salary, Tencent News reported. Sadly, the grand gesture was lost on the woman, who rejected his proposal.

Thankfully, demand for the new iPhone remains high in China, so he shouldn’t have too much trouble reselling them as one Weibo user suggested. Others simply dismissed the guy’s move as stupid. One user, 韵母和韵父, asked “How many kidneys did it take to buy those phones?” referring to earlier reports of a young man selling his own kidney to buy an iPhone. Another user wrote, ” 99 kidneys!”

For those who might be wondering how November 11th was chosen as Singles’ Day, the answer resides in the four lonely “1″s that form the date: 11/11.

 Photos: Weibo 


China’s Google Glass Killer? Introducing The BaiduEye

Posted: 09/3/2014 2:43 pm

baidueyeHere’s the newly announced BaiduEye, a computer peripheral that can be worn like a pair of glasses.

Baidu took the wraps off the high-tech device at BaiduWorld 2014, reports Sina Tech. As you can see from photographs of the device, it has a camera and an earphone, and can even can go online and identify objects, such as human faces, via the camera.

Wearable, camera-equipped, internet-surfing glasses will no doubt draw comparisons to Google Glass, but Baidu says its product is totally different. For starters, there’s new screen, or heads-up display, on BaiduEye.


A Baidu engineer explained that BaiduEye is lighter without a screen, and won’t distract users with constant on-screen messages.

A major feature of BaiduEye is that it can be controlled through the use of hand gestures. By pointing at an object and making specific gestures with your hands, a user will be able to activate and control BaiduEye.


Baidu CEO Li Yanhong explains:

If a person is strolling in Wanda Plaza and discovers a girl wearing a pretty dress, they can discover at which store this dress was purchased by taking a picture. By looking at a poster, they can figure out at what time a movie is playing, and book a seat and pay for it. The combination of online and offline make this the era of personal (wearable) computers.

BaiduEye does not yet have a specific release date, a retail price, or even a Chinese name. No detailed specification sheet was released either.


Photos: Sina Tech, Caixin


Special Report: More Electric Cars in China Could Add to Pollution

Posted: 09/2/2014 11:00 am

With a new car purchased in China approximately every 2.3 seconds, the auto industry hasn’t exactly been helping to improve the country’s air quality. In 2009, China surpassed the US as the largest manufacturer and consumer of automobiles in the world, and is set to pass 250 million vehicles. To put those numbers in perspective, in 1990, there were only 5.54 million vehicles on Chinese roads.

Yet while the automobile has become big business in China, electric cars haven’t quite taken off as expected. In 2012, the State Council of China initiated a plan to develop and promote new energy vehicles, with projections of 500,000 units by 2015. Sales have so far failed to meet expectations and, earlier this year, the national government lowered its target to 160,000 units.

Those numbers may finally get the boost the national government has hoped for with last Friday’s announcement that electric car manufacturer, Tesla Motors, has inked a deal with China United Network Communications Corp., the country’s second-largest mobile phone company. The agreement sets out an ambitious plan to build 400 charging stations at China Unicom outlets in 120 Chinese cities. The deal also includes construction of 20 “rapid-charge” stations which are said to work as much as 16 times faster than their conventional counterparts.

The Tesla Model S at one of its charging stations.

Not to be outdone by Tesla, the central government is also looking to get in on the action. According to a report in Automotive News, the government is considering spending up to 100 billion yuan to encourage demand for clean cars and expand charging facilities. While it will be sometime before we see as many electric cars in China as there are E-bikes (there were 100 million of them purchased in the last decade, more than all other countries combined), at least the country is moving in the right direction.

Yet while electric technology appears to be the next logical step for a country that has fallen in love with the automobile, not everyone is excited about China’s push for the electric car. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies (gasoline and diesel cars, diesel buses, e-bikes and e-cars), in 34 Chinese cities. Surprisingly, the study found that the overall particulate matter pollution of electric cars, which includes acids, organic chemicals, metals and soil or dust particles, can actually be worse than that of their petrol pumping predecessors: “An implicit assumption has been that air quality and health impacts are lower for electric vehicles than for conventional vehicles,” said Chris Cherry, one of the authors of the study. “Our findings challenge that by comparing what is emitted by vehicle use to what people are actually exposed to.”

In China’s case, there is also the very real consideration of the energy intensive manufacturing of electric vehicles, largely due to the energy and materials necessary to build lithium-ion batteries. China continues to be the largest consumer of coal in the world, with more than 80 percent of the country’s electricity generated from coal-fired power stations, and approximately one large coal plant built every week.

In China, a new coal plant is built every week.

As a result, the net benefit of electric cars produced by coal-generated electricity may actually be a net loss. In an interview with the BBC, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez, one of the authors of a recent Norwegian study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology examining the life cycle of conventional and electric vehicles, said that from an environmental standpoint, the success or failure of the electric car will be dependant upon how much we can clean up our electricity grid “both for the electricity you use when you drive the car, and for the electricity used for producing the car.”

While further inroads in clean, electric vehicle infrastructure in China is certainly promising, there’s still that dirty coal issue required to manufacture it that needs to be addressed. China hopes to raise its use of non-fossil energy to 11.4% of total energy consumption by 2015; but, it clearly still has a long way to go. While clean energy is critical to the future of China’s development, it’s important to keep in mind that all energy sources come at a cost: “There is no such thing as zero-emission anything, whether a zero-emission vehicle or a zero emission building,” said Majeau-Bettez.


New High-Tech Electric Trams To Hit Guangzhou Streets This Year

Posted: 06/16/2014 1:55 pm

guangzhou train supercapacitor trainGuangzhou will soon be home to the world’s first tram to operate exclusively on supercapacitors, reports Railway Gazette.

CSR Zhuzhou will produce a total of seven trains that will enter service in December this year in Haizhou District without the need of electric overhead lines. The first scheduled line will connect Canton Tower with Wanshengwei in a circular route that has ten stops and is 7.7 km long. The tram will be able to hold 386 passengers and travel up to 70km/hr.

Supercapacitor technology is unlike conventional electric battery technology in that it can charge and release energy quickly. The future Guangzhou tram will solve the common problem of trams having to stop to recharge at every stop, thus saving time.

Photo: Railway Gazette


Shenzhen Firm Continues Trend of Replacing Human Labor With Robots

Posted: 05/28/2014 12:19 pm

robot revolution The hammer and sickle may soon be held aloft by a robotic arm: China Shenzhen Rapoo Technology seeks to cut its work staff by continuing to replace human workers with the purchase of additional robots, reports 21st Century Business Herald.

Rapoo Technology, a wireless mouse and keyboard manufacturer, purchased 75 industrial robots from robotics leader ABB in 2011, a pioneering move for the sector at the time.

Deng Qiuwei, deputy general manager of Rapoo Technology, explained the company has increased wages by 10% four times over the past three years, saying the cost for each worker is currently between RMB 5,000 and RMB 6,000 (US$800-960). Therefore he argues the company needs to invest in robots.

Deng said spoke with maximum efficiency when he said with the utmost logic:

“We had 3,200 workers in 2011, and have around 1,000 now.”

This is the latest in robot labor news.

  • Foxconn announced the introduction of robots to its assembly line in 2011, with plans to have a million robots in place this year.
  • Guangzhou plans to have 80% of all its manufacturing production performed by robots instead of humans by 2020.
  • The Guangzhou government is proposing to construct two or three robot industrial development zones that will make 100,000 robots a year by 2020; however, it is not known if the job of making robots could also be given to robots.

But lest we forget, regulations on hukou requirements have recently been relaxed to attract more migrants to settle in Guangdong’s smaller cities as a way to keep up the province’s demand for labor.


Photo: Destructoid


That Building with the Colorful Lights in Shenzhen is Playing Your Song

Posted: 04/29/2014 7:32 pm

a8 building shenzhen music download light show flashingYou know that tall building in downtown Shenzhen, the one near the Keyuan subway station on Line 2, that lights up as though its some kind of a rainbow-flavored equalizer? That may not be far from the truth.

There’s a secret code to tall buildings that flash lights. We know the Canada Life Building in Toronto, Canada organizes its flashing lights to tell us what the weather is. The CN Tower in Toronto projects a subliminal image of the patriotic Mountie with its flashing lights. Meanwhile, the Empire State Building is known to put on light shows that accompany various songs or festive times of the year. But the A8 building in downtown Shenzhen is something different.a8 building scriabin shenzhen music download light show

The light show that we see actually represents something someone else is hearing. Specifically, music.

The flashing lights of the A8 building are designed to act as a visual representation of the sound waves heard in the songs being downloaded by A8′s own users. Seen during the day as an set of undulating ribbons (lucky number 8, the same as the number in a normal major/minor scale), the A8 building lights up at night to provide a light show that is based upon the song that is being downloaded from the A8 website.

The concept of associating music with sound is based upon the Scriabin keyboard in which each tone is given its own corresponding color. Here’s how Scriabin organized the twelve tones of Western music according to the circle of fifths:a8 building scriabin shenzhen music download light show

This promotional video shows A8 company representatives explaining their vision of the building while ballet and jazz dancers are dancing to music that is decidedly not ballet nor jazz. At 1.46, the founder of UNIT Studio Yang Moyang explains the how the light show works:

The creation of this building is based upon the music theory such as the staff, the piano keyboard, and so on. To begin with, the volume is split into eight pieces, Then, the sound wave is generated on the surface of the building shaped like the theory of music waves, most like a series of dancing keyboards… I think this building itself is the most crazy composition in the world.

Here’s a Youtube video that shows the building in action:

This sounds really cool in theory, but it behooves us not to point out the blatant flaws in this otherwise perfectly geeky set-up.

While the music is split into eight components to be displayed visually (for a major/minor scale), there are 12 separate tones in Western music theory—sorry, country music, but not everything is in the key of A.

Secondly, the colored tones never move position from left to right, so it is perpetually purple/Eb on the left side of the building; this makes it difficult to visually group the tones together to “hear” harmonies and keys.

Worst of all for people who read staff music: the eight segmented tones (that represent a major/minor scale) are placed side by side in a circle of fifths and not sequential like the keyboard it supposely emulates.

It still looks cool, though. And we are still able to tell when it’s a quiet song.

Go have a look for yourself!
A8 Music Headquarters, #1002 Keyuan Road, Technology Park, Nanshan District, Shenzhen

Photos: Shenzhen News, Gizmodo, Architecture Lab, MnemoTechnics


Guangdong Chengguan Compete for Geek Cred Against Google Glass

Posted: 04/23/2014 7:45 am

It’s quite literally a gadget face-off.

First, Jiang Yifan, a Changzhou chengguan (城管, or “city management officer”) in Jiangsu Province, touted his latest gear — Google Glass head wear— on Weibo. Then, Guangzhou chengguan fired back by brandishing a recording device that rivals Google Glass, but at only a tenth of its cost.

The mysterious “law enforcement recording device” used by the Guangzhou chengguan is the size of a brooch and can be pinned to the front of a guard’s uniform. Compared to the estimated RMB 10,000 cost of Google Glass, the equivalent made-in-China device only costs RMB 1,400. Moreover, it is equipped with a recording camera and a charger, Yangcheng Evening News reported on April 22.

The mysterious recording device used by Guangzhou chengguan. Photo credit: Yangcheng Evning News

“Compared with Google Glass, our law enforcement recording device is easier to operate and lightweight,” said one chengguan who claimed to have used the device.

Google Glass, a wearable computer, boasts a hands-free function where a wearer can record or take photos by blinking or through the use of voice command. According to the Guangzhou chengguan, their device also features a hand-free function. An urban guard can press the device’s button and record a scene while still engaging his ongoing task. (Which doesn’t sound ‘hands-free’ to us.)

Despite the competition for tech superiority, the chengguan in the two cities both agreed the use of such high-tech devices (if the unknown made-in-China one is able to qualify for such a title) will better help them deal with often violent incidents between chengguan and street vendors. More importantly, it may serve to dispel accusations of the chengguan’s propensity towards brutality and violence.

The latest such violent confrontation took place in Cangnan, Zhejiang Province. The clash on Saturday is said to have injured six when the crowds retaliated on chengguan after seeing the officers violently beating an onlooker when the officers’ requests of asking the onlooker to stop filming were turned down.

It is not known if the chengguan in that incident were wearing a Google Glass device or its Chinese equivalent, nor if they were able to operate its hands-free feature when they were getting their asses handed to them.

Home page photo: Chengguan Jiang Yifan wears the Google Glass patrolling the streets.

Photo credit: Jiangsu Net 


Intel Announces New Shenzhen Tech Center with $100M Fund

Posted: 04/4/2014 1:20 pm

Intel has further deepened its 29 year relationship with China by announcing the establishment of a Shenzhen-based development center for smart devices along with a $100 million fund to promote and support development of Intel-based technology in China, the Register reported.

The proposed Intel Smart Device Innovation Center will provide local original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers and software developers with access to Intel technology platforms and help support local tech firms in bringing products from conception to commercial actualization.

The announcement was symbolically made on April 3 at the Intel Developer Forum being held in Shenzhen.

CEO Brian Krzanich looking to increase tablet chip shipments from 10 million to 40 million a year. Krzanich said, ”We have missed the tablet, but we will grab future trends, including wearable devices and the Internet of Things.”

In addition to this announcement, Intel has further deepened its interests in China by courting relationship with successful “white box” vendors like Onda, Emdoor and Vido, reports PC World.

Stephanie Hallford, a director for Intel’s mobile business in China, stated that Intel has developed partnerships with about 13 Shenzhen-based original design manufacturers who use Intel chips to make products of 30 separate models. Hallford further elaborated that by the year’s end, Intel hopes to have partnerships with over 20 manufacturers that will produce a total of over 80 models.

Photo: Artdaily


Rent-a-ride app Uber launches in Shenzhen

Posted: 12/3/2013 11:00 am

Popular mobile app Uber has launched in Shenzhen, its second city in China after Shanghai.

Uber allows users of Android and iOS to request a car pick them up and confirm the fare, which is paid for via credit card through the mobile device. It’s become quite popular in the United States, so Uber has been expanding quickly in Asia.

Tech In Asia reports the launch in Shenzhen is expected to be low key, at least in the beginning:

As is Uber’s usual strategy, this is a limited, “secret Uber” roll-out that serves as a testing phase, probably for a couple of months. Uber’s blog post on this topic (via TheNextWeb) notes that Uber’s limos will be available around the Nanshan, Futian and Luohu neighborhoods of Shenzhen, but might be in short supply for now.

Uber’s minimum fare in Shenzhen is RMB 40 ($6.50), which is more than three times the starting rate of a local taxi.

Uber’s blog post on the launch in Shenzhen explains how the service works:

Download the Uber app on your iPhone or Android device and register with your credit card. Pinpoint your location and within minutes of requesting, a professional driver will appear with a luxurious Audi A6L stocked with Wi-Fi, water and chargers. Your private driver will be ready to take you wherever you want – whether you are crossing the HK Border, strolling the OCT Loft, or dining at your favorite spot in CoCo Park.

New to Uber? Use the promo code “SecretSZ” for one free ride up to RMB 200.

Uber is something we’ll definitely try out at least once (especially during rush hour when taxis are hard to find). It’s interesting that Uber picked Shenzhen as an early launch city, even beating out Beijing and Guangzhou. It speaks to the city’s cutting-edge and tech-friendly image.

(h/t @lantaumama)


Visual translation app Waygo now helps with Chinese pronunciation

Posted: 11/13/2013 10:00 am

The smartphone app market is full of Chinese translation apps, but not all of them do it well — and not all of them offer a differentiating feature that stands out from the crowd.

Now Waygo, a freemium iOS app on the iPhone, has added a useful new feature with its 3.0 update (along with a design overhaul). As well as translating Chinese characters when you hover your smartphone above them, Wagyo will now also show you the pinyin to help with pronunciation.

Waygo secured $900,000 in funding in July to launch an Android app and continue building out its product. Before that, in June, it won the “Most Promising Startup” award at Echelon in Singapore. It certainly looks like one to keep an eye on if you’re living in China.

You can trial Waygo for free on a basis of 10 translation per day, but if you want to do more than that you’re going to have to pay $6.99. However, with of so many free high-quality translation apps available, would you hand over your hard-earned cash for this feature? Let us know in the comments.

In other Chinese language app news, highly-regarded Pleco has recently updated its iOS app. It’s a complete revamp, and also includes optical character recognition.

At the end of October, The Nanfang reported on a pair of augmented reality glasses that can translate a Chinese menu into English.

Photo credit: Lee Yiu Tung
Story via: TheNextWeb 

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