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Tech


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Hot Novelties


There’s nothing like a few gizmos to spice up that long-awaited holiday

Hot Novelties


There’s nothing like a few gizmos to spice up that long-awaited holiday

Culture > Tech


 

Hot Novelties

July 18, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

 
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Self-Cleaning Sunglasses, Sacuba

Smudged lenses are the bane of anyone who dons a pair of shades. To prevent obsessive-compulsive cleaning, Sacuba Eyewear has built cleaning pads directly inside the frame – so removing sweat, oil, dirt or water is a simple matter of moving the lenses up and down in one quick action. Available in black, red, lime green, blue and orange, these wraparound sunglasses have a durable frame with flexible arms and adjustable nose pads. They offer 100% UVA and UVB protection, and feature changing technology, so you can easily switch between amber, yellow and smoke polarised lenses. (sacubaeyewear.com)

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Solar Charger Hat, Solsol

Solsol brings new meaning to the term “sun hat”. This cotton cap, available in 13 colours, has five solar panels on the brim that power a USB connection on the side. When sunlight hits the panels, charging of your personal device will activate, giving about two-thirds the power of a laptop. You can charge while wearing it or place it on any flat surface, including your car’s dashboard. The Solsol can also charge a battery device, so you can have unlimited juice and protect your head from UV rays – perfect for adventure holidays and camping trips. (solsolhat.com)


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Cube Mobile Projector, Rif6

You can prolong the languor of a day at the beach by chilling out with a movie or TV show afterwards in your room, thanks to the cute RIF6 Cube. This two-inch silver-framed mini projector weighs 140g, beams up to a 120-inch display on the wall and has a built-in speaker to create your own immersive cinema environment. It can mirror the screen of a mobile or laptop via an HDMI cable, or play content from a microSD card. The plug-in charger can also power the Cube, which can store enough energy to run for about 90 minutes on the go – perfect for that indie flick you’ve been dying to watch. (rif6.com)

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All the Answers


How popular Q&A website Zhihu has become the Quora of China

All the Answers


How popular Q&A website Zhihu has become the Quora of China

Culture > Tech


 

All the Answers

June 20, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Zhihu's logo

If you have a burning question of an intellectual nature, where do you turn for help? Traditionally, you might have consulted some smart friends or a mentor, or headed to the library for some solid fact-checking. Nowadays, of course, most people just prefer to ask online. 

In 2008, the chief technology officer of Facebook, Adam D’Angelo, quit his job to ultimately start Quora, a question-and-answer site where users can create and respond to questions upon registering with their real names – a strategy aimed at differentiating from other Q&A sites and increasing credibility for a multitude of answer-seekers. 

Quora began by gathering some of the brightest brains, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who asked a question in 2010: “What start-ups would be good talent acquisitions for Facebook?” Soon after, Zuckerberg acquired social travel recommendation site Nextstop, one of the companies suggested by a user. Quora claims to have 200 million unique visitors monthly, as answered by D’Angelo in a question asked on his own site. 

In 2010, after a failed attempt at developing a search engine marketing tool, Chinese software engineer Zhou Yuan began his second start-up venture: Zhihu, a high-quality Q&A website for the Chinese community. He was certainly inspired by Quora, a platform that he felt “connected the dots” but wasn’t available in the Chinese language. 

Like D’Angelo, Zhou is also a famous user of his own site, with approximately 880,000 followers. Following Zhihu’s launch, the knowledge-sharing platform received investments in 2011 from top Chinese angel investors including ZhenFund founder Bob Xu and venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur Mike Cai. 

The tagline of Zhihu is “Discover a bigger world”; the name actually comes from classical Chinese language, meaning “Do you know?” To accumulate a base of high-quality users in China, Zhihu adopted an invitation-only registration system in the beginning – this required a referral from an existing user, otherwise one had to apply to join by filling out a good deal of personal information. When open registration started in 2013, the number of users soared tenfold within a year.

According to a 2015 report from Zhihu, 87% of its users have a bachelor’s degree or above – that same year, the percentage for all internet users in China was 11.2%. In 2017, Zhihu had more than 100 million registered users and 780 million unique monthly visitors, the latter figure far surpassing Quora. 

Recognised for its signature sky-blue colour, the site and the two Zhihu apps have become a popular destination for Chinese-language internet users to make enquiries for expert insights, to share knowledge or to simply get a different point of view. Other services such as live-streamed talks and e-books are also available. Zhihu Weekly, a free digital publication released every Thursday since 2013, has covered nearly 200 intriguing topics, including sleep science, Chinese rock ’n’ roll development, Japanese decluttering skills, family psychology and a survival guide for smoggy days. 

As follows are some of the questions on Zhihu with an answer that attained a high number of likes (more than 50,000). 

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What are some important qualities that can’t be learned from books? 

The top answer has 174,000 likes. The answerer suggests a few things, including “expectation management in interpersonal relationships”, “awareness to self-regulate thresholds” and the “ability to manage time meaningfully by stepping out of one’s comfort zone”.

What are some basic but useful cooking tips? 

Top answer: 143,000 likes. The answerer gave a list of tips, including “not adding salt too early for stirred vegetables”; “adding a tomato or potato when making a soup, which can bring out a savoury flavour”; and “marinating white rice with a little bit of salt and oil before making rice porridge, then putting two porcelain spoons in the cooker, which can spiral in the boiling process and grind the rice better”. 

What are some high-IQ-required thriller movies? 

Top answer: 98,000 likes. The answerer first clarified that the definition of “high IQ” is subjective, then suggested some films including Witness for the Prosecution, The Usual Suspects and Perfect Blue.

What is love? What’s it like to be falling in love? 

Top answer: 57,000 likes. The answerer said: “Like suddenly you have a soft spot and also a hard shell.”

What are your special laws of survival?

Top answer: 59,000 likes. The answerer gave a list, including “thinking of having a win-win with anyone”, “not jumping into heart-to-heart talks with minor acquaintances”, and “not announcing your ambition before it achieves progressive results”.

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Mr and Mrs Robot


The hotel industry is beginning to embrace the rise of the machines, moving beyond mere novelty to service-oriented functionality

Mr and Mrs Robot


The hotel industry is beginning to embrace the rise of the machines, moving beyond mere novelty to service-oriented functionality

Culture > Tech


 

Mr and Mrs Robot

April 6, 2018 / by Paul Frost

Image above: Gardens by the Bay

  Aura and Ausca serve at the M Social Singapore and Beast & Butterflies, respectively

Aura and Ausca serve at the M Social Singapore and Beast & Butterflies, respectively

Sophie and Xavier are standing up against a wall on the fifth floor of the Sofitel Singapore City Centre – and they’re looking a wee bit pensive… well, as pensive as you could ever look when you’re a pair of robots waiting for orders to come through from the hotel guests you were built to serve. Welcome to Singapore in 2018, where science fiction has become science fact, and where the city of the future has become the city of today.

This notion started to take root in my brain while watching Chris Pratt battle the bad-guy aliens in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. Director James Gunn was supposed to have taken us into a world of make-believe and a vision of what the future might look like on a planet far, far away. 

But there was something strikingly familiar about the city of Xandar, the capital of the Nova Empire, with its towering hanging gardens, its inhabitants scooting their way around contently on all manner of personal mobility devices (PMDs) and, yes, all those robots.

The feeling struck again last year as I checked out what Chris Hemsworth was up to in Thor: Ragnarok. When director Taika Waititi took the action to Asgard, the fabled city of the gods, I started to wonder whether I’d sort of seen this place before. There, again, was all that greenery flowing down the sides of the skyscrapers, and while the fact that everyone was concerned with fighting for survival meant the PMDs were in park mode, the robotic technology seemed to be making life easier for everyone.

And then it dawned on me: it’s Singapore. There’s the abundant greenery, with Gardens by the Bay, the 101-hectare futuristic nature park in the heart of the city. There are PMDs, employed by the public and politicians alike – with a few new rules regarding their usage now being enforced. And now there are robots. 

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Numerous cities in the region are trying to incorporate robots into their infrastructure, including Hong Kong, where the government recently earmarked HK$10 billion to support the establishment of a research cluster for artificial intelligence and robotics technologies in the city’s 2018/19 budget address. And though it’s not yet reached the advanced development of Tokyo, Singapore has recently embraced robots at several hotels around town.

  Sophie and Xavier at the Sofitel Singapore City Centre

Sophie and Xavier at the Sofitel Singapore City Centre

As of March, Sophie and Xavier are ready to serve at the Sofitel, after a few months of trials and training for the hotel’s human staff. The 223-room luxury hotel opened in October last year and is part of the AccorHotels group that has long established the likes of the Fairmont and the Swissôtel, as well as the famed Raffles, as key players in the Singapore market. 

“We wanted to do something a little different,” explains Sofitel’s marketing manager, Walter Navarro. “It’s a lot of fun for the guests and for the staff, learning how to work with the robots.” So you can now watch in awe as Sophie and Xavier communicate directly with the lifts that take them off to fulfil their chores, which include delivering drinks and other items desired from room service.

At the M Social Singapore, you’ll find Aura (an acronym for “automated room-service associate”) parked just inside the front doors, also ready to cater to guests’ needs – as she has done since 2016. Designed by American robotics firm Savioke, this Relay robot can also deliver drinks and various other tasks while throwing a few corny robot-inspired jokes into the party mix.

Next door at the Beast & Butterflies restaurant, you can find the Ausca (“automated service chef associate”) prototype that’s taking technology to another level. Singapore-designed and produced by Kurve Automation, the robot has found its home; each day it duly delivers freshly cooked eggs (sunny-side up or in an omelette) to feed the hungry hordes.

“Singapore is at the forefront of technology and innovation, and this is the result,” explains the Millennium Hotels and Resorts group’s content manager, Lester Wong. “The guests love to see the robots working and they are doing the smaller stuff that no one wants to do anymore, so our staff can improve their skills in other areas.”

Robots are taking root at hotels around the city, an initiative spurred by the government’s Hotel Industry Transformation Map – a call issued in 2016 for the hotel industry to innovate. The combined effect has many visitors suitably impressed – including America’s Michael Whan, who spends most of the year travelling the globe as the commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

“I think Singapore is the future,” says Whan, who is visiting for the HSBC Women’s World Championship. “It feels like what cities everywhere will be like in 50 years. I can’t imagine there is a country that doesn’t look at Singapore and say, ‘We can do that!’”

Images: © 2018 Singapore Tourism Board (Gardens by the Bay); © 2018 Millennium Hotels and Resorts (Aura and Ausca); © Accor SA/Sofitel 2017 (Sophie and Xavier)

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Travel Smart


Get to know three Chinese apps that have helped make travellers’ overseas experiences that much easier

Travel Smart


Get to know three Chinese apps that have helped make travellers’ overseas experiences that much easier

Culture > Tech


Print the Future 

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

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Qiongyou

In Chinese, “qiong” means poor and “you” is travel. Fourteen years ago in his student dormitory in Hamburg, Germany, Chinese student Xiao Yi found a “one-euro” special offer for a night at a four-star hotel in Switzerland. After successfully making the booking, he was inspired to build a website gathering travel tips for independent Chinese student travellers in Europe. Now the company aims to spread its reach across the globe – by rendering a full suite of services for travel planning and a substantial offering of 600 independent travel guides (Qiongyou Jinnang) covering more than 300 cities and regions, compiled by travel veterans and Qiongyou editors, presented in a consolidated e-booklet format. 

The travel guides can be downloaded freely within the app so you can also read them offline. For example, if you’re going to Japan, there are 25 guides available. Some are city guides – including the popular destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka – alongside less-travelled destinations such as Aomori, which is the northern-most prefecture of Japan and contributes the largest production of apples for the country. Other intriguing themes include “Hokkaido Onsen”, “Taste of Tokyo”, “Japanese Architecture”, “Tokyo ACG (Anime, Comic and Games)” and “Hokkaido Railway”.

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WeChat

Initially released in January 2011, WeChat is now China’s most-used app, combining multiple functions including instant messaging, social media and payment services. Its monthly active user count approached 1 billion by the end of 2017. Besides its chat functionality, which keeps travellers connected with friends and family, its WeChat Pay system has also moved beyond the country’s borders to help Chinese travellers make payments overseas. 

In the romantic destination and the shopping haven of Paris, WeChat Pay is now accepted at two major department stores – Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and BHV Marais. The parent group of the former, the upscale department store chain Galeries Lafayette, revealed that Chinese visitors remain its top customers, spending an average of 1,400 euros per visit. 

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco launched its public WeChat account a year ago, on which its followers can receive updates about the museum, as well as access audio guides, maps and more. In July 2017, it also began accepting WeChat Pay for admission. It’s among numerous businesses and institutions around the world that are opening their arms to Chinese travellers – and both sides are reaping the rewards.

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Red

“I don’t want the world; I just want all of the world’s good things.” That’s the tagline used by the e-commerce community app Red (or Xiao Hong Shu in Chinese, meaning “Little Red Book”) in an advertisement on the Beijing subway. Launched in 2013, the versatile app gathers user-generated content on the worldwide shopping experience, mainly for sourcing the “good things” overseas. By May 2017, users of Red exceeded 50 million. 

Log in the app with your WeChat, Sina Weibo or Tencent QQ account, or register with your phone number (though an English version is not yet available for the app). Follow the bloggers you’re interested in or who you share a similar style with – those who shop extensively are able to provide information on good deals around the world. Many specialise in beauty products and luxury goods; you can also be a blogger yourself by sharing on your own account. 

Take the example of “CKlam at Aus” (CKlam在土澳), a Red blogger based in Adelaide, Australia with 2,000 fans since she started her account in July 2016. If you’re travelling to Australia and looking for some shopping deals, her posts could be helpful. She shares her experience of buying and using La Mer treatment lotion at a considerably discounted price; she also reviews a box of Australian-made Koko Black chocolate, which she thinks offers better value for money compared to a box of La Maison du Chocolat she bought at the Hong Kong airport. 

“What are the best brands to buy?” “Where can I find the full range of styles offered?” “What can I buy in this country that can’t be found in China?” These are among the most frequently asked questions the two founders of Red heard when they were overseas. With this app, eager Chinese shoppers can hear from their peers to help them make smart shopping decisions. 

Images: © 2014-2017 行吟信息科技(上海)有限公司 (Red); © 穷游网® qyer.com (Qiongyou); © 1998-2017 Tencent Inc. (WeChat)

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Print the Future


From teeth to homes, the rapid development of 3D printing is set to change the world as we know it

Print the Future


From teeth to homes, the rapid development of 3D printing is set to change the world as we know it

Culture > Tech


Print the Future 

January 26, 2018 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Image above: Ice House, designed by Space Exploration Architecture/Clouds Architecture Office

  A 3D-printed house in Russia

A 3D-printed house in Russia

The history of 3D printing may be longer than you think. It’s commonly believed that the prototyping system was created in 1981 by Japanese researcher Hideo Kodama. Three years later, US engineer Charles Hull invented SLA 3D printing, the stereolithography method that uses UV light to harden resins to form polymers. Since then, designers have been able to use digital data to create tangible objects.

The possibilities that 3D-printing technology have created are simply spectacular, from handy gadgets such as jewellery and stationery to sophisticated medical replacements. Among the innovations, a team of researchers from the Netherlands has developed 3D-printed ammonium salt teeth that have the ability to kill bacteria instantly. 

One of the most practical 3D-printing projects could be houses and apartments. In February 2017, Russia and US-based mobile construction 3D printer company Apis Cor printed a house in Russia in 24 hours on site (pictured left). The cosy-looking shelter measures 400 square feet at a cost slightly more than US$10,000 and the developers have claimed it’s capable of lasting up to 175 years. At the beginning of 2015, Shanghai-based Winsun Global (also known by the name Yingchuang Construction Technology Co) brought a five-storey apartment house to life, together with its first 3D-printed villa, the latter at nearly 12,000 square feet.

The “ink” that the construction-based 3D printer uses includes a considerable proportion of waste materials from construction and industrial use as well as mine tailings, meaning savings on the total cost of at least 50% if you also consider the manpower saved. 

In the pursuit of another universal good, NASA and its partners launched the multi-phase 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge in 2015, welcoming public proposals on how to build an off-world 3D-printed habitat for deep-space exploration. The Phase 1 winner was the Ice House (pictured right) by New York-based Clouds Architecture Office, which could use water to create a multilayered shell of ice as a protective home for explorers under the harsh atmosphere of Mars. Phase 2 followed in August 2017, with a focus on creating the technology necessary to print a structurally sound habitat. The next phase of the challenge involves the creation of miniature habitats for astronauts using “indigenous materials” from the intended location, such as Mars or the moon. 

When the future is printable, it seems there are limitless possibilities ahead and, as technology continues to be mastered, these pragmatic solutions can be highly beneficial for the human race.

Impressive 3D-Printed Structures

  Upstate New York House  2,400 square feet, 2014–present, by D-Shape Enterprises and New York City architect Adam Kushner; the property includes a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and garage.

Upstate New York House 2,400 square feet, 2014–present, by D-Shape Enterprises and New York City architect Adam Kushner; the property includes a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and garage.

  De Slaapfabriek Conference Room   in Teuge, Netherlands, 970 square feet, began construction in December 2017, by De Slaapfabriek Hotel and CyBe Construction; this conceptual conference centre is a fully sustainable 3D-printed one-room building in the shape of a vortex.

De Slaapfabriek Conference Room  in Teuge, Netherlands, 970 square feet, began construction in December 2017, by De Slaapfabriek Hotel and CyBe Construction; this conceptual conference centre is a fully sustainable 3D-printed one-room building in the shape of a vortex.

  Bloom  on the University of California-Berkeley campus, 1,300 square feet, constructed by Ronald Rael and UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design in 2015; this freestanding pavilion is composed of 840 customised blocks – the cracks allow light to seep into the structure.

Bloom on the University of California-Berkeley campus, 1,300 square feet, constructed by Ronald Rael and UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design in 2015; this freestanding pavilion is composed of 840 customised blocks – the cracks allow light to seep into the structure.

  Rise Pavilion  in Beijing, 1,200 square feet, constructed by DeFacto in 2016; it consists of 5,370 poly-blocks completed by 70 3D printers in 45 days and disassembled after the exhibition, with all poly-blocks reused in other projects. 

Rise Pavilion in Beijing, 1,200 square feet, constructed by DeFacto in 2016; it consists of 5,370 poly-blocks completed by 70 3D printers in 45 days and disassembled after the exhibition, with all poly-blocks reused in other projects. 

Images: Kushner Studios, Inc/D-Shape Enterprises LLC (Upstate New York House); Slaapfabriek Teuge/CyBe Construction (De Slaapfabriek Conference Room); © 2017 by Rael San Fratello/SCG 2016/© 2017 UC Regents/UC Berkeley University Relations and Tom Holdford, Elena Zhukova and Peg Skorpinski (Bloom); Rise Education/DeFacto/UCRobotics/PolyMaker/Photo: Hanep Studio (Rise Pavilion); Apis Cor (on-site house); Clouds AO/SEArch (Mars Ice House)

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Eyes in the Sky


Piloting drones may be taking off as a new way to have fun, but if you think it’s as easy as flying a kite, then think again – predator birds and electric power lines are just two of the obstacles that will be in your way 

Eyes in the Sky


Piloting drones may be taking off as a new way to have fun, but if you think it’s as easy as flying a kite, then think again – predator birds and electric power lines are just two of the obstacles that will be in your way 

Culture > Tech


Eyes in the Sky

January 26, 2018 / by Simon Webster

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From taking your ultimate selfies from the sky to streaming dizzying videos of scenery or experiencing the high-speed thrills of F1-style racing, drones have brought a new dimension to outdoor leisure. But beware – there’s a lot more to piloting a drone than unpacking the box and sending it flying over the nearest mountain for a peek at the other side.

The earliest drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to give them their correct name – were developed for military use. But in recent years, rapid advances in technology, combined with lower prices, have brought the drone experience within easy reach of both recreational and commercial users.

An entry-level drone can cost as little as around HK$3,000 (US$380). For that, you get a palm-sized device weighing 300 grams that’s capable of flying at 30mph and sending back streaming video from its built-in camera from more than a mile away.

The urge to send your drone skywards once you get it unpacked might be overwhelming – but if you do, it might be the last time you see it, says Ashley Cox, general manager of UAVAir, one of Australia’s biggest drone training schools, which is about to open its first international branch in Hong Kong.

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“When you open the box, the drone doesn’t know where it is, so there are software updates and calibrations to do,” he says in an interview from the company’s headquarters in New South Wales. “It takes a bit of time, but if you don’t do it, then the drone might fly back towards its last known address, which could be where it was manufactured in China.”

Safety is paramount when operating drones and the Hong Kong government – like other authorities – has clear guidelines on where you can and cannot fly, although most of the rules are pure common sense.

No-go zones include near Hong Kong International Airport and its take-off and landing paths, helicopter landing pads, Victoria Harbour and designated coastlines, and near large crowds and built-up areas – so forget using your drone to get a bird’s eye view of the Formula E Grand Prix or the Rugby Sevens. If you do, you might face charges of “recklessly or negligently causing or permitting an aircraft to endanger other persons or property”, to quote the Civil Aviation Department regulations.

You also have to use your drone in daylight, keep it within line of sight and fly it no higher than 300 feet. Drones for personal use can weigh no more than seven kilos, and if you want to turn professional and operate for profit, then you have to register with the Civil Aviation Department.

And when you finally get your drone airborne – using a handset that is similar to a computer game controller – just remember it might not be as simple as it seems.

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“The problem with drones is that they are easy to put in the air and fly, so people get overconfident,” says Cox. “And the next thing they know, they’ve crashed into a tree or a power line.” Another hazard is birds, which see drones as a threat. Large birds can attack them and knock them out of the sky – or be injured in the process.

The world’s biggest drone manufacturer is the Shenzhen-based Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co, which is marketed as DJI. For those wishing to get an initial taste of the drone experience, DJI’s flagship store in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay has its own flying area for demonstrations.

On an amateur level, drones are mainly used for shooting photos and video and in the fast-growing sport of drone racing. Equipped with FPV (first-person view) goggles, drone racers have a virtual-reality view of the course as it flashes towards them.

 “This is on a Formula One level in terms of reaction times,” says Cox. “The top racers have usually acquired their skills from gaming, and many are in the 15 to 17 age group, with super lightning reflexes.”

Drone racing has moved far beyond its origins as a bit of fun with some friends over an improvised course. The inaugural million-US-dollar World Drone Prix was held in Dubai in 2016 and the winner, 15-year-old Luke Bannister from the UK, finished at the top of a field of 150 racers to scoop the first prize of US$250,000. Racers flew their drones around a spectacular night-time circuit made up of illuminated hoops, and spectators watched on big screens or followed the action up close with their own FPV goggles. For the overall effect, think F1 meets Star Wars.

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On a professional level, drones are being used for everything from crop spraying to surveying rail lines and construction sites, and to search and rescue. Their uses are almost limitless.

You’re a developer building a luxury apartment block and want to show potential buyers the view? Then send a drone up to where the 40th floor will be and beam the images straight back to your mobile phone. Drones are also being increasingly used in journalism and have captured powerful images of natural disasters and conflict zones.

Cox says taking out insurance is a must and it is essential to check on local regulations if you are travelling with a drone. Many countries have strict rules over where you can fly them, including bans on going airborne anywhere near sensitive military or other strategic locations.

The UAVAir course, which will be run out of Hong Kong’s Discovery Bay, is aimed at professional users and is being launched with the approval of the SAR’s authorities. The company is also launching an online course for recreational users that will be tailor-made to the particular challenges of flying in high-density Hong Kong.

Looking to the future, online retailers like Amazon have been touting the possibility of delivering goods using drones, but Cox says that is still some way off. “We could see drones being used to deliver blood or other urgent medical supplies across a congested city, which could be a life-saving thing of incredible value,” he says. “But don’t hold your breath on getting a pizza delivered by a drone any time soon – the old-fashioned motorbike still looks like the cheapest and simplest solution for now.”

Images: UAVAir

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Smart Art


TV set an eyesore on your wall? Turn it into an artwork

Smart Art


TV set an eyesore on your wall? Turn it into an artwork

Culture > Tech


Smart Art

October 27, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Tired of looking at an ugly blank screen on the wall when your TV is switched off? Last year, Samsung came up with the answer: the Frame TV, which transforms into a work of art whenever you stop viewing. It comes with a choice of wooden frames and sits flush against the wall like a painting. Joining the 55-inch and 65-inch models of the 4K HDR TV this year is a more compact 43-inch version.

The Frame is the result of a two-year collaboration between Samsung and Swiss industrial designer Yves Béhar, who explains: “The Frame can show a billion shades of colour which means the artworks will be exactly the way you see them in real life”.

The Frame comes with 100 pre-installed artworks (through partnerships with Lumas, Saatchi Art and others) and Samsung offers several hundred more for purchase in its online art shop. Alternatively, you can load your favourite masterpieces – then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy.

Image: Samsung Newsroom

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Look, No Hands


Is there an echo in here? The Amazon Echo Look is a hands-free camera that harnesses the power of your best friend: Alexa

Look, No Hands


Is there an echo in here? The Amazon Echo Look is a hands-free camera that harnesses the power of your best friend: Alexa

Culture > Tech


Look, No Hands

September 29, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

Say “Alexa, take a photo” (or video) and Amazon’s new smart hands-free camera is at your command – not only by taking full-length photos and short videos, but also by telling you what outfit looks best on you. With the device, see yourself from every angle and get an enhanced look with built-in LED lighting – then, instantly share the shots with others if you find them up to snuff. In addition to being a style adviser, Alexa can also read news, set alarms, give traffic and weather updates, play music and control your smart home devices. Thanks, Alexa!

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I Get So Emotional, Baby


Don’t be afraid to embrace the language of the future: emoji

I Get So Emotional, Baby


Don’t be afraid to embrace the language of the future: emoji

Culture > Tech


 

I Get So Emotional, Baby

May 26, 2017 / by China Daily Lifestyle Premium

image above: Adam Wright stands in front of a couple of his submersible toys

Nowadays, there are so many ways for people to communicate. Particularly in today’s digital world, the colourful little icons known as emoji have become so popular that almost everyone uses them to express their emotions. In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary even declared the “face with tears of joy” (😂) as its word of the year. From ordinary people’s daily messages to celebrity tweets, a single pictograph or a chain of emoji can speak more than a thousand words.

First of all, let’s take a quick test to see if you’re tuned into this new language skill. Do you have any idea what the following emoji phrases stand for?

1. 🚸 🙆🏻‍ 👗 🌟

2. 🅰️ ➖ 👗

3. 🙅🏻‍ 📋

4. ✋🏻 👀 🙅🏻‍

5. 🚫 ⏳ 🙅🏻‍ 👋🏻

  The Emojipedia logo

The Emojipedia logo

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Check your answers:

(1) “Street-style star”
(2) “A-line dress”
(3) “I’m/You’re not on the list”
(4) “Hold up, I/you can’t”
(5) “No time, don’t care, bye”

Unlike most languages you’re familiar with, emoji effectively has few rules for grammar, vocabulary, syntax or semantics. The term was born in late-1990s Japan as “picture” (e) + “character” (moji) and featured prominently in electronic messages and on web pages. This quirky Japanese idea became popular on a global scale with the development of social media and the use of the emoji keyboard on Apple’s iOS operating system.

The history of humans using symbols to express ourselves dates back some 5,000 years to the Egyptians, who developed hieroglyphics to communicate and document their traditions. Although emoji are very different, according to Vyv Evans, a professor of linguistics at Bangor University in the US, they “have already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor, which took centuries to develop.”

One of the major reference points for the modern emoji era was the original version of the iconic yellow smiley face, created in 1963 by American graphic artist Harvey Ross Ball. He never applied for a trademark or copyright, however, so French journalist Franklin Loufrani registered the mark for commercial use when he used it in the newspaper France-Soir in 1972. Today, there are thousands of emoji available in digital communication and it has gone far beyond that humble smiley face.

“Emojis are the first time we’ve had a universal method of sending emotions as pictures,” says Jeremy Burge, founder of reference website Emojipedia, which he launched in 2013 to document all the emoji symbols and meanings in the Unicode Standard system. “The way I see emoji is as a one-off event that will never happen again as long as we use text keyboards for communicating. It’s remarkable that, seemingly overnight, we got an additional keyboard that’s installed by default on every phone in the world.”

  EmotiKarl

EmotiKarl

A report released by real-time emotional marketing platform Emogi attests that 92% of online consumers use emoji. According to Twitter, the most tweeted emoji in 2016 were 😂 , followed by 😍 and 😭 . But Jeremy says that the most searched emoji in 2016 was the relatively new shrug , the face with tears of joy 😂 and the heart ❤️ .

The usage of these ideograms differs across various countries and platforms. For example, a recent analysis of the “Emoji Usage of Smartphone Users” by scholars from Peking University says that in France, people are more likely to use emoji, with 19.8% of messages involving at least one. (The most frequently used emoji in the country is ❤️ .) Russia and the US are following, but with 😂 as the most used emoji. On the other hand, on Twitter, the most tweeted emoji in France is 💘 , and Italy and Japan share a similar love of the heart. As for the US, Canada and the UK, they just don’t seem to be as happy.

The translation of emoji in different countries can also be a tricky thing. Burge explains that emoji use tends to fall into two categories: literal and figurative. “For instance, people in the US have started using the “WC” emoji to mean “woman crush” instead of its original meaning, “water closet” for the toilet/bathroom,” he says.

  Versace Emoji

Versace Emoji

Nowadays, the influence of emoji is everywhere – and brands and celebrities are all catching the wave. “I see a whole new industry rising out of the emoji phenomenon, with sideline merchandise such as manga, animation, stuffed animals, clothes and shoes,” says Lin Zhang, a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California, whose expertise covers the politics, culture and economy of new-media technologies, “Sometimes it’s hard to tell which comes first – the featured emoji or the sideline products. But the fact that people use those characters on a daily basis to express themselves definitely improves the ‘stickiness’ of those icons.”

There are celebrity emoji packs by Karl Lagerfeld (emotiKarl), Kim Kardashian (Kimoji), Justin Bieber (Justmoji) and Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen’s Emoji Exploji), as well as branded emoji from Versace, Ikea and Harper’s Bazaar. There’s even Book from the Ground, an entire tome written in emoji by Chinese artist Xu Bing.

Where is emoji headed? “Far from replacing language, the visual symbols in fact enhance our ability to converse with one another – they also facilitate more effective communication,” explains Vyv Evans in his article No, the Rise of Emoji Doesn’t Spell the End of Language. On the other hand, according to Zhang, the future of mediated communication looks more like a combination of words and icons. So are you ready to embrace the future of language? ❤️

Images: Twitter; Emojipedia, Versace, Karl Lagerfeld

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Go-go Gadgets


From the hottest tech to the coolest stuff on the market, check out our curated selection of the trendiest goodies

Go-go Gadgets


From the hottest tech to the coolest stuff on the market, check out our curated selection of the trendiest goodies

Culture > Tech


 

Go-go Gadgets

March 31, 2017 / by Leung Pui Yee


Make Film Easier

The first multi-format, daylight-loading film developing tank, Lab-Box aims to help film photographers develop their rolls anywhere without the need for a darkroom. As people rediscover the classic techniques, this is perfect for anyone interested in pursuing analogue photography. (ars-imago.com)


Picture Pop

For the brand’s 80th anniversary, Polaroid has debuted the Polaroid Pop instant digital camera. The latest offering combines the brand’s nostalgic values of sharing with top technology, including a built-in printer – and its new rainbow colours are the perfect eye candy. (polaroid.com)


Audio Game Strong

Aiming for durability, high-end Korean audio brand Astell & Kern has released its stainless-steel AK380 player, which is built for all sorts of conditions. Limited to just 200 units at US$4,999 each, is your pocket powerful enough to hold this beauty? (astellnkern.com)

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A Fresh Take on a Classic

In 1947, Movado released its iconic Museum watch with the acclaimed dial and solitary dot at 12. In 2015, the brand launched the Edge, which is the new interpretation of the Museum, with a further accent on minimalism. Recently, a special edition Edge was added to the fold in two sizes, with the colour options of black-rose gold or stainless steel-blue. Perhaps this one will end up in a museum someday, too… (movado.com)


The Ultimate Training Gear

Get your home workout started today in style with Swedish design studio Tingest’s collection – aimed at being your ultimate training equipment. Bespoke dumb-bells and kettle bells? You’ll never need an excuse to skip exercise time again. (tingest.se)


The World’s First Tea Humidor

London-based interiors company Lotusier has unveiled the world’s first “tea humidor”. Handcrafted from sycamore with chrome fittings, this type of wood imparts less of a scent to your precious tea leaves, preserving their flavour from the negative influences of light, odour, heat, air and moisture. Available in five designs, pre-orders of this exquisite objet d’art are around US$8,750. (lotusier.com)

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Let’s Face It

Want some seriously personalised candy? Scan your face on your smart phone in 3D mode, then the Candy Mechanics can “immortalise” you in chocolate. You’ll arrive via the post in your sweet Lolpops form. Now the only question is: do you dare to eat your own head? (candymechanics.com)


The Bed that Does it All

A good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to achieve instant happiness. If you want to live in dreamland, you might want the help of the Sleep Number 360 smart bed, which takes care of everything while you sleep. Using SleepIQ technology, it auto-adjusts firmness with your body movements, warms your feet to help you fall asleep faster and even senses your snoring before you start and takes action to relieve it. Curious about your sleeping patterns? Connect to the bed via your smartphone and check it when you wake up. All you have to do is sleep. (sleepnumber.com/360)

 

Pizza Me ASAP

Sneakerheads and pizzaheads can now unite. For this year’s March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, Pizza Hut created 64 pairs of the “Pie Tops”, handmade by The Shoe Surgeon, Dominic Chambrone. As demonstrated in a hilarious ad by retired NBA star Grant Hill, at the simple press of a button on the shoe’s tongue, you’ll get a piping-hot pizza delivered to the sneaker’s location. Seems a little bit cheesy to us… (pizzahut.com)


Light it Up

The Hong Kong student-conceived Lumos Helmet is the world’s first smart bicycle helmet to integrate lights, brake and turn signals. Among its many accolades, it received the London Design Museum’s Beazley Design Award in the Transport category. Designed with the urban cyclist in mind for a safer ride and enhanced rider visibility on the road, Lumos has been a runaway success. Now if only we could find some bike lanes in Hong Kong… (lumoshelmet.co)


The Headphones that Let You Hear What You Want

Today, countless headphones have noise-cancelling functionality, but the latest Stages Hero takes it to the next level with its “selective sound” and “ambient directional audio filtering” technologies to create a customised listening experience. Allegedly, it knows what’s best for your ear at each moment and delivers an audio experience that can be custom-tailored from its app. You can even set audio keywords that automatically trigger music projection after they’re said. (stages.co)


The Voice Assistant Named Melody

You may already know Siri, but allow us to introduce Melody – your new smart voice assistant, who can recognise different individuals’ voices and serve in a variety of ways. Try to talk to her (or him), then let her do her job: managing your calendar, playing music and looking after your smart home. You’ll probably also notice that she has a much more tangible and cooler look than your old friend Siri. (rokid.com)


The Moto that Parks Itself

Have you ever had a fear of falling off your motorcycle? Thanks to advances in self-stabilising technology, Honda has unveiled its Moto Riding Assist prototype, which can ride and park by itself without rider control. The potential success is set to greatly reduce accidents – and your riding anxiety. Just remember, you still need a licence before you can get on the road. (world.honda.com)

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Tweety Pie


Launched in 2006, Twitter has become one of the top go-to social media sites – get to know the dos and don’ts of tweeting

Tweety Pie


Launched in 2006, Twitter has become one of the top go-to social media sites – get to know the dos and don’ts of tweeting

Culture > Tech


 

Tweety Pie

February 24, 2017 / by Joel Fischer

Donald Trump has been known to do it in the middle of the night. Kim Kardashian has done it more than 22,000 times. Many people don’t understand why you would want to do it at all. 

We’re talking about tweeting and, unlike posting your entire life on Facebook, this social media activity demands a particular set of skills.

Why use Twitter? It’s a way to have a one-on-one virtual connection with your heroes and anybody who interests you. Likewise, you can share your life and views with an almost limitless number of people. And it all has to be done within the tantalising limit of 140 characters of text – plus photos, videos and links – which really helps you focus your mind.

 

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Katy Perry has the most Twitter followers, with 95.6 million of the micro-blogging site’s 317 million monthly active users. Justin Bieber isn’t far behind with 91.5 million, followed by Barack Obama and Taylor Swift with around 83 million each. The heaviest hitters of Twitter are pop stars, heroes of sport and other celebrities. But you don’t need to be famous to create a buzz with the right tweets at the right time.

In fact, Katy Perry is a great example of how to do it well. She has a bubbly tweeting style that mashes up chat about her tours and her music, insights into her emotional roller coaster over the US election, and playful titbits about her daily life. “Done with my Christmas shopping”, she tweeted, and posted a link to her Instagram page that featured crazy gadgets like a “pet emergency evacuation jacket” and a “chocolate donut camera”.

To get started on Twitter, pick a simple, memorable user name like @KatyPerry, post a short profile and choose a photo. Some tips: avoid punctuation such as underscores in your name, post your own photo (not a photo of your dog, it’s not Facebook) and don’t be an “egg person” – referring to the default egg-shaped image when a user hasn’t posted their own picture. It’s the ultimate Twitter fail, and won’t get you any followers or respect.

Then, it’s time to start tweeting by sending your updates (“what’s happening?”) and following people. Building up an army of followers can take time. Generally, the more people you follow and the more you tweet, the more followers you’ll get. To become a Twitter star, you need to carve out a reputation for posting original, eye-catching tweets on trending topics – and maximise your visibility by mastering the use of hashtags.

Twitter Analytics will show you how your tweets are performing and who is following you – right down to their age category, country, income bracket, gender and interests. If your popularity is flagging and your Twitter ego is keeping you awake at night, you can turn to the unscrupulous tactic of buying thousands of “followers” from online sites. But do beware – there may be a lot of fake profiles in there and, at the end of the day, it’ll feel like paying a crowd of people you don’t know to come to your birthday party. Happy tweeting! 

Image: © 2017 Twitter, Inc.

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Follow Me


The CowaRobot R1 is a smart suitcase that stays by your side anywhere you go

Follow Me


The CowaRobot R1 is a smart suitcase that stays by your side anywhere you go

Culture > Tech


 

Follow Me

December 9, 2016

At peak travel times, dragging your weighty suitcase through a crowded airport is one of the most annoying things imaginable. But what if your carry-on could follow you around like an adoring puppy, keeping your hands free for your smartphone and a latte? It’s not a far-fetched idea relegated to science fiction any more – a group of robot enthusiasts have developed a handy autonomous smart suitcase, the CowaRobot R1, which is set to make your next trip that much easier.

Equipped with a variety of future-forward technologies, the R1 includes a system dubbed “Co-Eye”. With the help of a depth sensor, sonar equipment and cliff-detection monitors, the R1 can find its own way and avoid obstacles. It can communicate via a wristband and will follow by your side at a top speed of 4.5mph. The wristband also works as a keyless remote to lock and unlock the case. Even if the R1 gets lost, a GPS chip inside enables the suitcase to navigate its way back to you. 

The R1 measures 21.6 by 15 inches (meaning it fits in the overhead bins), weighs less than 5kg and has a 33-litre capacity. Its removable battery pack powers it for 12 hours – and can charge your other devices. You can also control and monitor the R1 by a mobile app, available for iOS and Android, that gives you information about the R1’s current location status and battery life – you can even activate an intelligent lock system. If you don’t feel like using the smart mode, no worries; you can just pull out the handle and switch the case to manual mode. 

The R1 ushers in a new wave of baggage innovation. While owners should rightfully be gleeful, airport staff may have a new job on their hands – keeping “suitcase traffic” in order.

Images: CowaRobot

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