Before coming, I had heard a lot about what it was like to live in China. I was told about the pollution, the loud people and environment, its economy and politics, amongst other things. However, nothing had prepared me for how futuristic it is here in China, or at least in Beijing. Everywhere I go, advanced technology and innovation seem to be embedding itself into the lives of the Chinese people at an ever-growing rate.
One of my favourite technological developments that have taken China by storm over the last 5 years has been the emergence of sharing bicycles. What is different about sharing bicycles in China is that they are dockless, that is, you can hop on, hop off, and leave them just about anywhere. Although an administrative nightmare initially for the government, the system and the people here have adapted such that you can’t go anywhere without seeing a colourful yellow OFO or red Mobike on the streets. I have enjoyed riding through the streets of Beijing at both the morning and the night, finding serenity in navigating the chaotic traffic mayhem and even becoming a little bit braver in the process. After experiencing 3 near death experiences and following crowds of bikers weave their paths through a potentially fatal intersection on a daily basis, you naturally become a bit stronger in the face of ordeals. These bikes have saved me countless hours navigating through the Beijing subways and have become my favourite part of China.
Another aspect of my life that has been changed is that I no longer have to bring my wallet out with me. With the integration of mobile payments practically everywhere in China, I simply pay by bringing my phone, scanning a QR code, and voila, transaction completed. It has enabled everyone from small vendors, big businesses and even beggars on the street to manage their small e-commerce platforms. Alipay and Wechat pay, two of the biggest companies in this area, have eliminated the necessity of ever having to touch money in your daily life in China.
Facial Recognition Technology
Whilst many anticipate the use of Facial Recognition with the release of iPhone X, this technology has already been in use in China for a while. Just last month, a pedestrian crossing in Shanghai was able to catch 23 jaywalkers in a month using facial detection technology. I also saw people using facial recognition to confirm the validity of their identification documents in hotels as well as facial recognition being used to pay for groceries in unmanned stores.
Technology and Innovation Hub
Perhaps all of this innovation should not surprise me. After all, in a country of 1.3 billion people, bright minds and people are a dime a dozen. The tech market here is simply crazy. Keep in mind that even with a one in a million idea, you still have one thousand and three hundred people trying to over compete you here in China. It’s no wonder that China has developed at such incredible rates in the last 30 years. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for tech in China.