Source: China Daily
E Ink Holdings Inc, the world's largest electronic ink technology vendor by market share, is seeking to boost its China revenue to 30 percent in three years by tapping into the burgeoning internet of things or IoT market.
Efforts to digitalize and revamp retail in China are driving E Ink's businesses, with the proliferation of smart education, medical treatment, and transportation systems fueling additional momentum, Frank Ko, E Ink chairman and CEO, said.
"China is sharpening its focus on environmental protection and improved productivity through automation. This offers a unique opportunity for us, " Ko said in a recent interview.
The IoT refers to a network of devices, vehicles, buildings and other objects that contain software or sensors that allow them to connect and exchange data.
E Ink, or electronic ink, is a display technology with high visibility, high contrast and low power consumption compared to other displays like liquid crystal displays or LCDs.
The company's technologies are widely used in Amazon Inc's e-book Kindle, whose battery can power the device for over a month after a single charge.
Sales of e-book readers and e-paper notebooks together accounted for roughly 70 percent of E Ink's $500 million revenue last year, with the remaining 30 percent from IoT applications including smart cards, electronic shelf labels, e-paper display solutions, and mobile and wearable devices.
Noting E Ink's technologies are most applicable in industries that involve massive paper usage, Ko said IoT applications are poised to grow at a faster pace as more industries are embracing electronic ink for better performance.
"Sales in China are expected to jump from 20 percent last year to 30 percent by 2020, as electronic ink is being increasingly adopted across display boards and price tags at retail outlets, patient tags in hospitals, to smart devices for classroom teaching and screens at bus stops," he said.
Hema Fresh, a popular supermarket chain in China that has embraced the New Retail concept, which integrates online and offline shopping via big data analysis, is a client of E Ink, Ko said.
"Intelligent retail used to be a thing of the West. Now that China is seemingly taking the lead in the latest round of retail upgrade, our business here is likely to ride that wave," he said.
Apart from the retail front, the company will team up with local governments of "several major cities" and announce several partnerships in electronic displays used in public transportation within this year.
Similar initiatives are likely to be rolled out in the realm of education by the first half of 2019, Ko said.
The IoT could add $196 billion to the cumulative earnings of the manufacturing sector alone over the next 15 years, according to estimates by consultancy Accenture.
Source: China Daily
New integrated circuit factory in Jinjiang to focus on development of advanced technologies.
The country's largest single integrated circuit manufacturing facility, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd, is expected to fill the gap in the domestic market for memory chips after the completion of the first phase of its construction in September.
Jinhua is an advanced chip manufacturing enterprise established by Fujian Electronics & Information (Group) Co Ltd and Jinjiang Energy Investment Co Ltd.
The $5.65 billion investment in Jinjiang, a county-level city in East China's Fujian province, will see the establishment of a facility designed to develop advanced memory technology and process techniques and carry out the manufacturing and sales of related products.
Jinhua's first phase is expected to come online in September and reach a production value of $1.6 billion annually. Completion of the factory's construction will see production increase to $6 billion each year, according to Xu Zheng, deputy general manager of Jinhua.
The company's goal is to realize the domestic manufacturing of integrated circuit chips and become an advanced integrated circuit manufacturing enterprise with an independent intellectual property system.
Xu said: "Jinhua is looking to fill the gap in the domestic market by producing integrated circuit products for mobile phone manufacturers in the country." South Korea is at present the world's leading exporter of integrated circuit products, he said.
Wang Wenhui, vice-mayor of Jinjiang, said the city has prioritized integrated circuit manufacturing as the driving force for its development in the high-technology industry and as the new engine of the local economy, which has long been based on labor-intensive manufacturing of sportswear, food and sanitary products.
Wang said massive imports of integrated circuits and chips are crucial for the country's information industry security.
The coastal city plans to build a whole value chain, ranging from design, manufacturing, testing, equipment and terminals to reach an industry value of 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) by 2025. So far, more than 20 high-tech projects have been signed and introduced to the city.
In addition to integrated circuits, Jinjiang is also opening to innovations and startups.
Fujian Strait Graphene Industry and Technology Institute in Jinjiang has conducted research into the material's applications in the industry.
Graphene is made of a thin layer of carbon atoms and has incredible strength and conductivity. Potential applications include lightweight, thin, flexible, yet durable display screens, solar cells, and various medical, chemical and industrial processes enhanced or enabled by the use of new graphene materials.
Xu Zhi, chief scientist of the institute, said graphene-enhanced soles of shoes are lightweight, flexible and odorless.
The institute has signed a contract with a local apparel company worth 160 million yuan to develop and manufacture lightweight, anti-bacterial and comfortable soles.
The city, also known as the world's shoe capital, is home to more than 3,000 shoe manufacturing enterprises. It is reported that 40 percent of the sports shoes manufactured in China and 20 percent of sports shoes globally come from Jinjiang.
"The material can bridge the integration of the emerging industry and the traditional manufacturing industries to make Jinjiang a more globally competitive city," Xu said.
BRUSSELS - China is unique and essential for Europe's AI strategy, and vice versa, said a European business leader.
"It is beneficial for both sides to jointly work on this topic, and this is the right time for Brussels and Beijing to deepen their cooperation," Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led international digital association in Brussels, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Why is China so essential? Gambardella said the significance lies in China's competitive advantages with the EU. With a population larger than Europe and the US combined, China has "a natural advantage" with tons of data, which are the key to the machine-learning algorithms behind the AI boom.
He added unlike Europeans, Chinese customers have well adapted to digital life. "For instance, mobile payment is so prevalent in China that a cashless society has become a reality in many cities."
According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, China's digital economy totaled 26 trillion yuan ($4.07 trillion) in 2017, accounting for about 32 percent of its GDP.
However, Europe is relatively less digitalized. "So China will be an appealing and promising market for the EU's future AI companies," said the digital association chief.
As for why China should look to Europe when developing its AI strategy. He said Europe has world-class researchers, laboratories and startups in the field of AI, making it home to the world's leading AI research community.
He noted that the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence was founded in 1988, and is one of the world's largest research centers in the field of AI.
Data showed that Europe accounts for largest share of top 100 AI research institutions worldwide and there are 32 European research institutions in the global top 100 for AI-related research paper citations, compared to 30 from the US and 15 from China.
As a result, Europe now is a leading player, producing more than one-fourth of the world's industrial robots and is home to three of the world's largest producers of industrial robots, said Gambardella.
China has set a development plan for new generation AI as its strategy in July last year to compete with the United States, which is the first country to have implemented a comprehensive AI research and development strategic plan in May 2016.
However, Europe has been slow to act. Only last month, the European Commission outlined its European Union-wide strategic plan to boost AI.
"It comes a bitter fact that Europe already lagged behind North America and Asia in private investment in AI," said Gambardella.
Some Chinese major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Tianjin as the latest one, have announced their own measures to promote the AI industry, joined by China's banking sector, technology giants, and numerous small and medium-sized enterprises.
"If the EU wants to be more productive and effective, it needs to deepen cooperation with its competitors, especially China," he added.
Source: China Daily
China will devote more resources to reforming its manufacturing sector with new, innovative technologies, while improving the higher education system's ability to produce quality talent capable of original, groundbreaking work, officials said on Saturday.
China will invest around 110 billion yuan ($17.2 billion) by 2020 to help the country's top 42 universities become first-class institutions, while creating 137 universities with first-class standing in specific fields, Yang Wei, former director of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, said during a panel discussion at the 20th annual meeting of the China Association of Science and Technology in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, which opened on Saturday.
During the opening ceremony, Zhou Ji, president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said high-quality talent can promote greater use of new technologies in China's manufacturing sector and help turn China into a world-class manufacturing powerhouse by 2035.
Wan Gang, president of the association, said China needs to become self-sufficient in the core technologies of advanced scientific fields, including space, telecommunications, medical equipment and robotics.
"Without a strong ability to innovate, our industries are stuck producing mid-to low-tier products," Wan said. "This is a hurdle that we must overcome if China wants to become an innovative nation and a world-class science and technology powerhouse."
Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang said China is blazing a new development path centered on creating high-quality talent and technologies to lead industrial and economic growth.
Wang said the four main challenges for China's scientific and technological innovation are the inability to solve key problems in core technologies; a lack of research direction in frontier sciences; a lack of mechanisms to organize innovation resources from companies and the public sector; and a lack of globally influential industrial standards set by China.
Therefore, the government needs to provide consistent and lasting strategic planning, policy and legal services for science workers; help nurture influential scientists and world-class research institutions; and create a favorable institutional and social environment for scientific thought and innovation, Wang said.
At the same time, more resources will be devoted to technologies that can help reform China's manufacturing industries and improve people's livelihoods, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, cloud computing, clean energy, biology and medicine, he said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, as well as the 60th anniversary of the China Association of Science and Technology. More than 2,500 participants from 26 countries and regions joined the association's annual meeting this year.
Stephen Welby, president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, an international science organization, said: "Chinese scientists have been essential in creating many technologies that we have taken for granted.
"The Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as other Chinese research institutions, have been a driving force for significant technological advancement in the world. These achievements will continue to expand our understanding of technologies and how to use them for the benefit of humanity."
Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, said it is crucial to pay attention and invest in fundamental science and its applications. He said artificial intelligence, the internet of things and blockchains are the three technologies that will change the world in the next two decades.
"Profits for future companies will not come from their size and scale but their ability to innovate on fundamental levels," he said.
Source: China Daily
HANOVER, Germany - Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a vision for the future, as the technology has already been introduced to consumers in the form of virtual assistants in our smart phones, tablets, speakers and computers. But how does it fit into the Industry 4.0 concept?
During the ongoing Hanover Fair 2018, information technology (IT) companies and robotic equipment producers are keen to paint a picture of future factories where AI plays a key role in it.
Two branches of artificial intelligence - machine learning and deep learning - are seen as having the capability of building on the strength of big data to optimize processes, find new solutions, and gain new insights.
Especially for machine learning, it enables predictions to be made based on large amounts of data. This branch of artificial intelligence is built upon pattern recognition and has the ability to independently draw knowledge from experience. For this reason, the technology has found its place in industrial processes.
"Because AI enables to connect two machines. If I get the information from a machine then I am able to start to predict an outcome, I can start to predict maintenance, I can start to predict the quality of product, I can start even to predict logistics processes," Hans Thalbauer told Xinhua.
Thalbauer is the senior vice president in charge of Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain at SAP, a German-based multinational software corporation.
"It is really going away from the reactive, alert-driven type of business," said Thalbauer.
At SAP's booth, the company showcased a bottling machine that can fill different bottles with different colored liquid instead of just one, which SAP developed with other equipment producers.
This is quite different from the conventional manufacturing process, which can only produce a certain type of product one at a time. The sensors on the machine collect and send the data to the computing platform, which can then analyze the process and tell the machines how to handle the individual bottles.
Nowadays, every single product on the production line can be individualized, and the cost can be at a level similar to mass production, said Thalbauer.
Another interesting approach from SAP is smart, automated assembly work stations. They understand which order has priority, if the required resources are available, how long the battery will last, and much more. Using this knowledge, they can independently decide whether it is more efficient to skip an assembly step first and then perform it later. This means assembly lines are no longer linear but flexible. This could mark the beginning of the end for the assembly line.
From small and medium-sized companies to large international corporations, every organization can accumulate data that it can make use of. With software, this data is consolidated and evaluated to make predictions. Machine learning recognizes characteristics and relationships and uses algorithms to make generalizations from them.
However, AI's benefit is yet to be fully recognized by companies in various sectors.
Artificial intelligence is supposed to keep Europe's energy suppliers competitive, but only 23 percent have an AI implementation strategy, according to a study by Roland Berger, a consulting firm headquartered in Munich.
Some 83 percent of the more than 50 interviewed companies in the sector realize that something has to change, and they assume that AI will play an important role in their future business. At the same time, 40 percent acknowledge that they have no use concept for the technology, the study shows.
The consultants recommend a gradual introduction - utility companies should first use prepared applications to optimize existing systems - and the funds saved could then be used by companies to develop new AI business models.