With the end of 2016 fast approaching, Baidu has announced the most searched news in China. Based on data collected in the first eleven months of this year, a total of 26 lists on a wide range of topics like international and domestic affairs, “in” words, poplar apps were complied by leveraging data from various services under Baidu’s brand.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 searches about tech.

VR Going Mainstream

Image credit: Shutterstock

This is year one for virtual reality. Born decades ago, the technology has finally found its way to large-scale commercial applications. The change almost happened overnight in 2016 both in China and globally with the rise of quite a few leading products from head-mounted devices like HTC Vive, Hololens, and Oculus to VR accessories like KAT VR. With the boom of VR arcades around the country, VR technology is no longer a novelty and has entered the everyday life of average consumers.

VR is also taken very seriously by mainland tech companies. Nearly all leading domestic internet companies released VR devices or VR-related services: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, LeEco, Sougou, Baofeng, as well as many small companies. At the same time, business use of VR technology is opening more opportunities in this booming market.

Detecting Gravitational Wave

Recruitment show Only You with Guo demonstrating his equations

For decades, scientists have been attempting to detect the gravitational waves that Albert Einstein predicted in his general theory of relativity. The first observation of gravitational waves was finally made on 14 September 2015 and was announced in February this year.

In China, this news went even further with calls for Fang Zhouzi, an outspoken critic and science writer, to apologize. Five years ago, Fang appeared on 非你莫属 (Only You, a job hunting show) as a judge. During the show, he went on to ridicule Guo Yingsen, a 55-year-old who had been recently laid off, for his belief in gravitational waves. Fang and Zhang Shaoshang, host of the show, were both roasted online for their harsh and, more importantly, erroneous words.

AlphaGo Beats Go Master Lee Se-dol

Image Credit: Taimeiti

In a competition in March 2016, Google’s AlphaGo program beat Lee Se-dol 3-0 in a best-of-five match of Go, considered to be much more challenging for a computer than chess due to its complexity. The event was seen as a landmark moment for artificial intelligence, and hence, triggered concerns that AI will doom human race in the future. Scientists and engineers have taken sides on what are the future prospects for AI and human race. But one thing is for sure, the technology is receiving the attention it has never obtained before from both entrepreneurs and investors.

Shenzhou 11 Crewed Spacecraft

Image Credit: CCTV.com

China launched Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on October 17th, sending with the Long March Rocket two astronauts who spent a 33-day stay in the space station. That was the longest Chinese astronauts have spent in space. It is China’s sixth manned space mission since 2003. A source of enormous national pride for China, the space program has been receiving lots of public attention linking is with the country’s economic and technological progress.

Driverless Car

road test photo 1
Image Credit: Baidu,  Baidu’s Concept Car Traveling on the Outskirts of Beijing

Driverless cars, along with AI, is getting lots of traction. As a leading player in the field, Baidu has been testing in the outskirts of Beijing, Wuzhen, and in the U.S. LeEco is also rapidly expanding their testing grounds for autonomous cars both locally and abroad. Despite the attention, there are still lots of technical and ethical obstacles to be solved before the wide application of this technology.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.