It has been a while since I last taken my solo trip. Most of my travel mates don’t seem to express interest to travel to China, so the idea of traveling together (to China) has been called off several times. Thanks to my company Skyscanner which provides the employees some financial incentive to visit China (since we got acquired by Ctrip in Dec 2016), I got a chance to make the decision to grab my backpack and embark my solo journey again, this time to China. 🙂
Turns out it is a great decision to make! Apart from being amazed by the scenery of the cities, I was no surprised by the technological advancement that China had in the recent years. Some of the observation during my trip:
- I have heard the usage of mobile payment gateway (eg: Alipay) with QR code is pretty common in China. What surprises me is that the usage basically spans across everything that you can possibly think off as long as there’s a transaction involved. Street food? Checked. Money transfers? Checked. Taxi rides? Checked. Restaurant queueing, ordering and paying? Checked. Even I heard at some place the beggars don’t accept cash, but there is a QR code in front for you to scan and transfer. Pretty amazing! The speed of the transaction is vastly faster (less than 5s) compare to credit card terminal which might take up to a min. The only downside I noticed is that most of the people will use only one digital wallet, therefore everyone will ask if the store support either of them (Alipay, Wechat Pay, QQPay etc..) before they made the payment. Could there be a day where these payments gateway merged and become one, thus eliminated the additional question?
- Image recognition and classification can be applied everywhere. I first noticed this when I was taking a Didi car from airport to my hotel, and there were flashlights on the highway capturing photos of passing cars. I thought those are just usual speed cameras, but the driver told me that on top of that, it also check if the driver has the seatbelt on, and might automatically deduct points if there isn’t. When the car reaches my hotel, the parking gantry does car plate recognition instead of the usual ticket issuing. Facial recognition is also used in certain financial transaction to prevent fraud. That is definitely more accurate against signatures when you swipe your credit card 🙂
- The adoption of electric vehicles. The number of electric vehicles ranging from scooter, bikes, cars, buses and trucks is amazing. Though there are still quite a bit of petroleum vehicles I think China has greatly outpaced other countries in terms of the adoption of EV. Those vehicles are really quiet, and of course environmental friendly! The only thing is the way how people drive in China, is not something I can handle haha
- Augmented Reality navigation with notes on tourist attraction/sceneries. While I was using Baidu map for navigation, there is an option for me to use AR instead of the normal 2D map, and visual information will be displayed on top of the camera. As a person who is bad(?) in direction, this feature helps me identify the correct direction easily with the visual display of the surrounding environment. There is still quite a lot of improvement to look forward to in this feature though, as the experience wasn’t that good yet. It is an interesting feature regardless 🙂
- VR roller coaster. Lol saw in some Chinese TV show, with big robotic arms controlling the seat.
There was also an interesting interview with Baidu AI director which I stumbled on TV. One of the statements he mentioned is that the interaction with the digital world will shift from mobile to something more intuitive in terms of visual or human senses. Take the example of the augmented reality navigation mentioned above, it might be more intuitive with technology like smart glasses (or smart contact lens) compare to using mobile phone in between as a platform. Apart from wearable tech, VR / AR could be another platform that might shift the current paradigm in interacting with the digital world. The future is very exciting and I hope that I can be one of the pioneers haha!
It’s interesting to see that China made these advancements in such a short period of time within the last 20-30 years. It used to be a stereotype where people assuming China to copy every other technology from the other countries, but the table is changing now and China is leading some of the best innovative ideas in the world.
Of course as a traveler / tourist, the places are definitely worthwhile to visit 🙂 some photos below:
So after seeing so many advanced technologies and pretty sceneries, it’s time for me to get back on track on my ML AI journey once again! It’s been a while since my last post on the topic, looking forward to myself posting new stuff about things I learnt haha 🙂