Live from CES Asia – 2017 tech trends to watch

The 2017 CES Asia kicked off at the Shanghai New International Exposition Center (SNIEC) with over 450 companies exhibiting, showcasing products in 19 categories such as AI, vehicle technology, and virtual reality. So many companies but what to watch out for?

At the 2017 Tech Trends to Watch session, chief economist of CTA, the company behind CES, Dr. Shawn DuBravac outlined four key technology trends and some interesting companies to note.

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Dr. Shawn DuBravac presenting at CES Asia 2017 (Image credit: TechNode)

Invisible computing

The computing experience is evolving as traditional computers, tablets and even smartphone sales growth slows. Instead, we’re seeing a move into new devices and designs. The next frontier is voice recognition or even gesture control as the interface, rather than a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

VinciYou can use speech recognition to give hands-free commands through your voice to advance songs in an app while you’re out walking or jogging. A lot of the internet experiences previously were reliant on devices that are connected to the network, such as computers and smartphones. But now, we’re starting to connect more directly.

Dr. DuBravac mentioned the Vinci headphones as a new device equipped with a computing experience. The headphones were successfully funded on Indiegogo and are billed as the world’s first intelligent headphones. It is equipped with voice recognition technology which takes commands such as changing the music or providing directions to a restaurant.

 Augmented and virtual reality

Augmented and virtual reality are trends that continue to gain momentum. Hardware based on the technology may still be considered expensive toys but there are some exciting advances in this area. Mixed reality is one of those advances where what’s happening in the virtual space and also the physical world are combined to create a rich environment.

An application of this technology is the Valeo digital displays for vehicles, where situational awareness displays will show a 3D rendering of the car in midst of its environment, not just the conventional forward or rear views we’re used to seeing.

Another interesting company working in this area is the Power Ray underwater drone, which provides a whole new fishing experience. The drone is equipped with a 3D display to help immerse you in the underwater world while you’re trying to hook that big catch.

 Algorithmic experience

JetsonsTechnology based on algorithms and crunching big data will be applied to many more areas such as appliances and retail. Dr. DuBravac described it as like the Jetsons, the 60s cartoon show depicting a family living in the space age with all the futuristic conveniences. That future is not far from us now.

By automating appliances and introducing robots, our gadgets can take care of chores such as vacuuming, feeding the pets and do shopping when the milk runs out. Some of that is already happening now. However, the technology will advance so all the appliances in that environment are linked and can run on settings based on time and environmental parameters.

That brings us to the age of adaptive automation. There will be sensors to take myriad readings which will provide data to make recommendations or even make decisions on the user’s behalf. More services and products will appear based on consumption driven by algorithms.

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Oomi at CES Asia 2017 (Image credit: TechNode)

Oomi smart home technology is a company doing well in this respect according to Dr. DuBravac. They have a range of sensorized appliances that are all connected, which has been made possible as the prices of sensors have fallen. Other applications are autonomous cars and drone deliveries from JD.com.

 The digital life

We used to talk about going online as if we were breaking from what we were doing in the physical world to engage with the content for a period of time. Then when we disengaged, it was described as going offline and back to the physical world. However,  our lifestyles and our environments are increasingly digitized. We’re in a world that is both analog and digital.

We’re moving far beyond devices such as smartphones with more and more sensors being deployed to capture information that has always been there but hasn’t been digitized. The information is being re-deployed to make recommendations and decisions for us.

Some of the technology showcased at CES that speak to this trend include the internet of things, IoT. Tech Air from Alpine Stars are airbags that protect motorcycle riders. The air bags are equipped with sensors and software algorithm that will instruct the airbag to deploy if an impact is imminent.

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This Shanghai startup is making it easier to brew beer at home

We have seen a lot of connected coffee machines last year, from Auroma Brewing Company to Smarter Coffee. This year in CES 2017, iGulu, the company behind an automated home beer brewing machine, won CES 2017 Innovation Awards honoree in the Smart Home product category.

This is not the first time for this Shanghai-based startup to get noticed by the Western market. On June 2016, the company successfully funded their Indiegogo campaign, surpassing its goal by 701%, with over 1 million USD. Since then, the company changed its name from Artbrew to iGulu.

China is the world’s largest beer producer and consumer for the past 12 years. According to a report released by USDA China, annual sales of U.S. craft beer sales could reach 12 million USD by 2017.

“In the next five years, we will see a rapid development of the craft beer industry in China, for both family and commercial purpose,” CEO and founder of iGulu, Shu Zhang told TechNode.

With the continued growth of income, Chinese beer consumers pursue better quality and various flavors. Imported beers, particularly those from Europe were popular. The iGulu team believes that they can bring more quality and flavor options with their customizable brewing machine. The team believes beer home brewing goes along with the DIY trend in China, too.

“More and more Chinese people are willing to DIY at home for daily necessities. As the world’s second most consumed drink, more Chinese people are willing to brew their beer at home,” Shu added.

iGulu’s automated beer brewing machine allows both beer experts and novices to brew high-quality beer by pressing a few buttons or using an app. It also offers a database of thousands of beer recipes, along with the option to modify or create new recipes. The user interface uses a 4.3 inches LCD screen for operation and comes with a matching app.

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iGulu’s automated beer brewing machine

Despite the huge beer market, Chinese consumers, beer trade, bars, and restaurants all lack awareness and know-how of craft beer. To raise market awareness, iGulu’s goal for this year is to raise funding using a Chinese crowdfunding platform and introducing their products in the retail market. Offline agents and online KOLs, like wanghong, will be their main promotion channel.

“As for the commercial market, we will provide automatic smart brewing devices with at a low price so that small business owners can brew customized beers for their customers,” Shu remarked.

The company raised 4 million RMB (57.9 million 578,678 USD) in an angel round from Hofan based in Shenzhen and Yinxinggu Capital based in Zhejiang.

The idea of automatic brewing machine comes from Shu’s experience with craft beer.

“Once I tried craft beer that my friend brewed at home, and the taste changed my impression of beer. I hoped I could brew my own beer at home, and share with friends. So I came up with the homebrew idea,” Shu says.

Shu Zhang, the CEO and founder of iGulu, previously worked within the data center of Cisco and was the technical leader of Motorola’s Software Group. The core members and technology development team of iGulu hail from Eson, Oracle, Motorola, Cisco, and AB-InBev.

“Experiences at Cisco and Motorola gave me the space to be creative, and the outstanding colleagues made me feel proud. But I think it’s time to live a new life. I want something challenging,” he said.

Image Credit: iGULU

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TechNode’s Top 10 “Other” Stories of 2016

It’s official: 2016 is finally over. From celebrity deaths to surpise elections, no one could have predicted how it went. That certainly is true for us at TechNode as well. After delving into our top posts for many different verticals, we all agree that 2016 was disappointing, unpredictable, but also amazing in it’s own way.

In that spirit, we present you with our top 10 “other” stories: stories that don’t fit our usual categories.

1. This Chinese Lingerie Startup Crowdsources Their Underwear Models

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-57-53Shanghai-based startup O2 (氧气) crowdsources their lingerie ads from their users. For every three sets of lingerie photographed, models receive one set for free. O2 calls their models “lingerie experience masters.”

2. Chinese Delivery Companies Are Selling ‘Empty’ Packages To Boost E-Commerce Sales

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-46-14An investigative report by The Beijing News revealed China’s illegal market of “empty package scalping” (空包刷单, our translation), whereby shop owners on Taobao and Tmall inflate their sales statistics though fake package deliveries by using “empty package” service websites and delivery services.

3. Chinese New Year Special: Top 3 Memes For The “Year of the Monkey”

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-46-23猴腮雷 (housailei, the Cantonese pronunciation for “very impressive” or “intense”), 六小龄童 (Liu Xiao Ling Tong, the stage name of Zhang Jinlai, famous for portraying the Monkey King), and 耍猴 (shuahou or “putting on a monkey show”) all made the list of monkey memes. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Year of the Chicken!

4. Meet The Chinese Tinder-Like Sugar Daddy Dating App For Students

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-46-42Sudy is a swipe-based dating app that only pairs rich men with attractive women, and especially caters to college students looking for financial help on tuition fees.

5. 5 Things You Should Know About China’s Luxury Market

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-46-53A look at the main trends in luxury market from 2015, including an overall decline, steady growth in some verticals, more purchases in Japan, South Korea, and Europe, crossborder e-commerce taking off, as well as brands pricing their items globally instead of regionally.

6. Lyft Looks To Didi, Apple, G.M. For An Exit Lane

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-47-15After Didi agreed to take over Uber China, Lyft struggled to figure out how it could survive. At the time, they were reported to be in talks with different companies to sell the company.

7. Announcing The Winner of TechCrunch Beijing 2016 Startup Competition: Ruff

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-47-28Ruff, a startup focusing on building an IoT development system, took home the top prize at this year’s TechCrunch Beijing.  Lack of compatibility and standardization among devices and operating environments slow down development and release of innovative IoT solutions. By using Ruff’s platform, developers do not have to double-compile or go through another kernel.

8. This Company Is Bringing Ethereum Blockchain Tech To China’s Tech Giants

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-19-47-39China is a powerhouse when it comes to Bitcoin trading. According to a report published by Goldman Sachs last March, about 80% of Bitcoin transactions are driven by the Chinese yuan. However, awareness around Ether, another cryptocurrency, is much lower. ConsenSys wants to bring Ethereum to China’s tech and finance giants, such as Tencent, Ping An, Ant Financial, and Alibaba.

9. Xiaomi Is Expanding Their Smart Transport Empire With Bicycles

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-13-08-53After tackling Segway-style smart transport in 2015, Xiaomi Inc. expanded further into smart hardware. Xiaomi-backed smart bicycle company IRiding released a ‘smart’ bike called the ‘QiCycle’, as part of Xiaomi’s Mijia white-label strategy. In late 2016, Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, announced they expected sales to reach 2.2 billion USD by the end of the year.

10. Is China’s Startup Incubator Bubble Set To Blow?

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-13-16-03As more government attention is paid to innovation, more money is flowing into incubation. In April, we questioned whether or not there was a bubble in the incubation space. At the end of 2016, incubation and co-working were still going strong with no signs of stopping.

Image credits: Technode, Shutterstock

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