24 July 2017
With Asia as the manufacturing hub for much of the world's consumer electronics – as well as emerging as an increasingly tech-savvy early adopter market – it is perhaps not surprising that Shanghai's CES Asia, held in June, consistently draws huge crowds. Now in its third year, the event – formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show Asia – featured more than 450 exhibitors, including LKK, a Beijing-based product-design business. The 13-year old company has dabbled in several cutting-edge sectors, including producing glasses for both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology.
Largely working on an OEM basis, LKK has also cooperated with Canadian high-tech product developer, Neptune, on the launch of the Pine, a watch said to offer all the functionality of an Android smartphone. As a testimony to the success of the timepiece, it went on to receive international renown after taking centre stage in the Hollywood film The Fast and The Furious 8. Over the years, the company has won several awards, including a prestigious 2016 Red Dot for the Lobob, its child-friendly stethoscope.
"Although we have mainly developed products for other companies, over the past two years we've been promoting the Nonoo Eye, our proprietary range of water containers,” said Miles Ma, the company's User Experience Development Product Manager. “These allow people to pour in boiling water then, after shaking the bottle for 40 seconds, it is ready to drink at about 55°C."
360 Degree Viewing
One of the most ubiquitous products at the event was the waterproof 360-degree camera. Among the many companies offering such a system was Hong Kong-based Okaa. "This is very much a new line for us,” said Roger Chan, the company's General Manager. “We started out in the tablet and notebook market back in 2010, but now we believe there are truly great prospects for this product."
Jostling with the cameras for prominence were the many drones to be found at this year's show. Among the more unusual models on offer was the Poseidon, an underwater drone launched by Shenzhen-based Geneinno.
"It's quite a new market and, as a result, competition levels are relatively low,” said Sales Representative Candice Zou.
"The Poseidon can operate down to a depth of 120 metres and has a battery life of up to five hours. As well as its suitability for leisure use, we also see it as having applications with regard to underwater surveillance and reconnaissance."
Speaking your Language
After testing a number of apps and phone-based systems, Amsterdam-based Travis the Translator found that most of the systems on the market didn't provide a viable translation service in a real-world situation. By contrast, the Travis system is said to facilitate communication in 80 languages.
According to Lennart van der Ziel, company Chief Executive, the device delivers this through an integration of noise-cancelling technology, seven different translation engines and a state-of-the-art voice recognition system.
"While it can't quite replace professional business interpreters just yet, it can certainly help people communicate in more informal settings. We see it very much as a work in progress."
As with a number of the products on display at the show, Travis is still at the development stage, having received substantial backing from several crowdsourcing platforms. It was a similar story for ChampOn Technology, a Shenzhen-based company showcasing a selection of both existing and forthcoming product ranges.
"Our iPhone-controllable smart plugs are already available,” said Jenny Zhuo, a Product Engineer with the company. “These can be used in a number of ways – remotely turning on your central heating before you arrive home, for instance.”
Taipei-based SIC Technology showcased a cadmium-free quantum display film suitable for use with display units "At the moment, due to the high-cost of the technology, it is really only suitable for high-end use,” said Ethan Tsao, General Manager of Gistek Electronics, SIC's Shenzhen-based mainland partners.
"As it is also highly power-efficient, it is particularly suitable for use in outdoor signage. Typically, such signage requires intensive LED usage, but this tends to produce a lot of heat, requiring the use of a cooling system."
This year, as a sign of the growing importance of the sector, an entire hall (one out of a total of five) was dedicated to car tech. While many of the larger companies – such as Baidu, with its self-driving car technology – were stealing the headlines, it was often a number of less-heralded smaller companies that made such breakthroughs possible.
A case in point was Beijing-headquartered NavInfo, the company that creates the digital maps for the majority of China's in-car navigation systems. "We've been mapping China since 2002 and we were the first to produce a turn-by-turn map,” said Pedro Febles Cortez, the company's Director of Advanced Research and Technology. “Baidu, for one, uses our maps as the underlying technology in its self-drive systems."
While "Hello Future" could be the general response to many of the items on show at the fair, for Beijing-based Futurus, it is actually the verbal trigger used to activate PiLOT, the company's inbuilt heads-up display (HUD) system.
Chiefly prized for their safety benefits, HUD systems project navigational and speed data onto the windshield, ensuring drivers never have to take their eyes off the road. Explaining the particular benefit of the Futurus system, Senior Programme Manager Crystal Zhang said: "We access the speed data via GPS and a built-in 4G connection. To make things easy, everything is voice-controlled. You just say 'Hello Future' to activate the system."
The PiLOT system is scheduled to ship in August.
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