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Tech in China 2013: Every Hardware Turns Smart
The concept of smart device is reinvigorating hardware industry in recent years. Triggered by the trend, it is no exaggeration to say that Chinese hardware industry experienced viral growth in 2013, while a spate of new hardware mushroomed and both internet giants and startups swarmed into the sector.
Apart from smartwatch which we need a stand-alone article to discuss, Chinese market witnessed the boom of a wild diversity of wearable gadgets, ranging from smart rings to smart wristbands, etc. The main functions of these products are sports monitoring and incentive, health care, and kid or elderly tracking, among others. The prices of most products are below 2,000 yuan ($330.6).
Here is a list of interesting wearables that caught our eye:
- Baidu-backed Codoon launched the first and second generation of Codoon wristband within seven months. The company also developed other gadgets such as Codoon Candy and Codoon Smile, which have similar functions of the wristband. The searching giant Baidu released a dedicated website for wearables in cooperation with Codoon Wristband and inWatch.
- Qihoo released 360 Child Guard, a GPS tracking bracelet, which can locate where the one wearing it anytime and can display the course on the app in smartphones for any given period of time.
- GEAK, the hardware brand of Shanda, released a smart ring.
- MAX released GalaRing G1 which is powered by NFC encryption technology.
- Hong Kong-based tech company Digi-Care planned to release their first smart wristband ERI to users by early 2014.
However, the research and development of smart wearables are still in the preliminary stage, because most of them are still accessories for smartphones, featuring pretty much the same functions as smartphones.
The importance of hardware itself may reduce in the future with freemium model becoming a tendency. What matters most is the data collected by the smart gadgets. Shen Bo, head of Cocoon, once noted that what he valued most is Codoon Workout, the accompanying app for Codoon wristband which recorded more than 20 million installs so far (source in Chinese).
Smart WiFi router is expected to become the next hotspot of hardware sector, as more and more Chinese companies consented on the idea that smart router is the very gateway that can take control of Internet access and have impact on content consumption in families or working spaces.
- Qihoo released two wireless routers, one with an average size and the other is a dongle.
- Baidu rolled out four products for hardware brand Xiaodu, including a WiFi dongle, a router, a portable projector, and a cloud camera. Together with the efforts in exploring wearables market, Baidu aims to attract more partners to adopt its cloud infrastructure and create an App Store-like platform, where users can upload data related to their daily life, noted by Hou Zhenyu, chief architect of Baidu Cloud, at TechCrunch Shanghai.
- HiWiFi released Hi1S and Hi 2, two upgraded version of its flagship product Hi1, after securing tens of millions of dollars in Series A financing this September.
- Smartphone maker Xiaomi and Shanda also released smart WiFi routers on the same day to tap the market.
The rise of hardware sector is creating new opportunities for China Internet.