If your technology is described as “black” in China, don’t be offended. Instead, consider it one of the highest compliments you can attain in the tech world. Unlike black magic, it has nothing to do with voodooism or malicious enchantment, but rather a term reserved for only the most mind-boggling, futuristic and out-of-this-world scientific feats.

Think the stuff of sci-fi films: teleportation, humanoid bots, splicing. As for things that are already here – HoloLens, Magic Leap and Tesla’s self-driving cars and cloning of beef cows and pets.

A depiction of “black technology” from the anime series

The phrase has roots in the Japanese Anime Full Metal Panic, where “Black Technology” originally referred to scientific accomplishments developed by a species of “whisperers”, stealthily kept from civilians,  and so advanced it’s beyond the bounds of human understanding.

The Chinese tech space has  even been a little too generous with the term of late. Phone and gadget makers have been lauding some of their features as “black technology.”But to get realistic, NFC, gesture sensitive cameras and video filters are nowhere near the league of Black Tech in this century.

So what exactly qualifies you as a member of  the “Black Technology” club? The answer will vary as science progresses, but to avoid sounding conceited, let others entitle you instead of flattering yourself–after all, cool kids don’t call themselves cool.

Xiaomi for one, has not been shy flattering itself

Based in Beijing, April Ma writes on tech trends and covers startups that may (or may not) be the next BATs. Reach her at April.ma@technode.com or Mafangjing (Wechat).