Food safety is a prevalent concern in China, it’s kind of surprised when IT giant ( Chinese google) Baidu, came up with its smart gadget targeting this problem. Smart Chopstick, made its debut at 2014 Baidu World conference. “In the future, via Baidu Kuaisou, you’ll be able to know the origin of oil and water and other foods–whether they’ve gone bad and what sort of nutrition they contain,” the founder Mr. Yanhong LI said in a speech. The product is claimed to be able to analyze your food before you eat it, testing pH level of common drinks, level of sweetness, temperature, and the quality of cooking oil used, more feature and info such as the origins and varieties of food through Baidu Search, will be developed and the data will be transmitted to the accompanying mobile app through bluetooth.
It is just a gadget of hundreds of thousands of smart devices that pop up overnight across the nation. A craze of intelligent hardware is ongoing fervently. Besides Baidu, nearly all the leading domestic giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi have invested heavily in this sector, let alone a great number of start-ups spring up and venture capitalists used to turned off by hardware’s high startup costs and lengthy start times are making their way to the arena.
Internet giants play a role of smart hardware accelerators
Chinese online retail giant JD.com has become one of the first distributors, smart hardware makers would turn to whenever they are about to ship products. Earlier this year, the company launched JD+, an accelerator for smart hardware products, offering funding, marketing support, online-retailing or other resources individual makers otherwise can hardly access. It is expected that there will be a handful of such platforms in China. Baidu has established one offering Cloud services and others like search traffic, but Baidu doesn’t own a direct retail platform.
Aliyun, the division for Cloud services of Alibaba Group, launched Alink platform Aliyun has been trying to have manufacturers of consumer electronics products, from smartphone to smart TV, adopt the customized Android system they have developed and use their Cloud services.
Xiaomi, the fast-growing smart device and mobile service provider, will eventually become a similar platform to JD’s. Apart from working directly with manufacturers on designing smartphones, smart TVs, smart WiFi routers and the like, Xiaomi has started introducing hardware products designed and made by third parties, such as a portable battery charger.
Multi-promotion channel for intelligent hardware
Crowd-funding is developing quickly in China. The largest domestic crowd-funding Demohour platform is looking to further increase and has transformed to focus on specialized platform for intelligent hardware since August 2014. It also organizes offline fair to showcase the latest intelligent device to the public with over 2000 audience each time. As Demohour claims, it has set up alliance with over 500 distributors from home and abroad and can help speed up the access to other markets like USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, other Asia countries and Europe. Furthermore, it has set up contacts with over hundreds of component suppliers and manufactures in China, which is key element in terms of cost control and process efficiency, it can help start-ups reach the right partner and manage the whole process, usually the start-ups lack the knowledge of supply chain management and spent a great deal of time on learning curve.
Other platforms like Pozible.com, an Australia-origin, China-entry crowd-funding platform also choose intelligent hardware gadget as its china market entry strategy. The Markers, an online web and TV show specialized in China-origin innovation projects has promoted a variety of projects in smart hardware.
As the new and first platform for start-ups to endorse by themselves, iDaiyan has launched two programs already, all in the field of hardware.
Shenzhen, emerging Silicon Valley of Hardware
Shenzhen, the largest migrant city geographically adjacent to Hongkong, is emerging as a hotbed of experimentation in electronics and hardware builders thanks to a comprehensive value chain network and unmatched manufacture capacity elsewhere in the world. The powerful ecosystem there is able to offer a dizzying variety of hardware components and therefore builders can put together anything with a creative idea, test the prototype quickly, tinker and iterate speedy. It’s compared that the work done in the States cost one month can be completed just in one week if happened in Shenzhen.
Shenzhen is also dubbed “ origin of Shanzhan”, because nearly all technical goods in the country are manufactured here, from exceptionally bad copies of iPhones, iPads, BlackBerries and other popularized gadgets to up-to-date telecommunications infrastructure bought by the world’s biggest carriers. The city brags of the strong manufacture base, abundant hard-working engineers, speedy logistics infrastructure as well as most probably the largest electronics component retailing market in the world “ Hua Qian Bei.” There’re over 20 shopping malls located in the Huaqiangbei area which provides about 70 million square meters of business area. Annual sales reaching over 20 billion, and there’s something like 130,000 people employed in the area. Every day, the engineers from the global can be seen scouting the particular components in the vast market although the market environment is not foreigner-friendly and need local knowledge to navigate.
"If you're an engineer with an idea and you're waiting five days or two weeks to test it, that's no way of being creative," said Will Canine, co-founder of OpenTrons, a company building an open-source liquid-handling robot in Shenzhen. "When you're creative you want to try an idea and move on to the next idea and then the next idea. That's the kind of dynamic flow that's possible in hardware in Shenzhen that's not possible in the other parts of world.