China Hi-Tech Fair shows post-pandemic innovation around AI, robotics, smart city

Yujie Xue
·4-min read

Hi-tech innovation for a post-pandemic world took centre stage in China’s biggest technology show, which kicked off its five-day run in Shenzhen on Wednesday, as the country’s economic recovery gains momentum.

The 22nd edition of the China Hi-Tech Fair, with more than 3,300 online and offline exhibitors from the mainland and overseas, has put renewed emphasis on the ways innovative technology could help people better adapt to changes caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

This year’s fair presented a range of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 5G and smart city applications, including some products that are already in use.

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The featured innovation is a testament to how China has turned to technology like never before in fighting the spread of Covid-19 and to help people carry out daily necessities, such as shopping and work.

China Hi-Tech Fair exhibitor Intellifusion presents its artificial intelligence-powered pandemic control and prevention applications at the event in Shenzhen. Photo: Handout
China Hi-Tech Fair exhibitor Intellifusion presents its artificial intelligence-powered pandemic control and prevention applications at the event in Shenzhen. Photo: Handout

The return of the China Tech Fair also bolsters the country’s efforts to rebuild its economy. China was the first major economy to return to growth amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, growing 3.2 per cent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier after a record 6.8 per cent contraction in the first quarter.

At the fair, Shenzhen-based Intellifusion presented its AI-powered public health systems, which identify people captured by its surveillance cameras deployed at pharmacies, hospitals and various public areas.

“Our pandemic-prevention solution builds a three-tier system,” a company spokeswoman said.

“At the micro level, people with abnormal temperature are detected in real-time; at the mid-level, we trace the trajectory of the people infected and find others who they are in close contact with; and at the macro level, we analyse the distribution of the affected individuals.”

She said Intellifusion, which raised 1 billion yuan (US$151 million) in its latest funding round in April, has worked with local authorities to analyse the trajectory and spread of infection.

During the peak of the pandemic earlier this year, the local governments of Guangdong, Zhejiang and other provinces required pharmacies to register people who buy any medicine for cough or fever, and pass their information to local disease control authorities when necessary.

A visitor checks out the 8K live-streaming 5G network at the China Hi-Tech Fair. Photo: Xinhua
A visitor checks out the 8K live-streaming 5G network at the China Hi-Tech Fair. Photo: Xinhua

“Intellifusion’s pandemic prevention and control platform now provides an effective and feasible smart city solution for urban public health emergency systems,” the company spokeswoman said.

Another Shenzhen-based firm, Kuang-chi Technology, showed an AI-based helmet at the fair. The helmet is designed to help measure the body temperature of individuals in public areas.

Infrared cameras on the helmet enable the wearer to measure the temperature of people from up to five metres away. The helmet, which can be linked to Wi-fi and 5G networks, is also equipped with facial recognition technology. In addition, it can scan health QR codes, a widely used method for contact tracing in China.

The helmet was first launched in November last year, but was later updated with other functions after the pandemic broke out, according to a Kuang-chi spokesman. The device is now used at airports, shopping malls and parks in more than 20 provinces across China. The company has also shipped it to 36 countries around the world, including Italy, Russia and Indonesia.

A delivery robot is seen at the fair in Shenzhen. Photo: Xinhua
A delivery robot is seen at the fair in Shenzhen. Photo: Xinhua

A major trend that emerged from the pandemic in China is the use of robots, which help to reduce human contact to a minimum. Robots are used for ultraviolet disinfection as well as delivery of food and medicine.

At the China Hi-Tech Fair, the Shenzhen Hospital of Southern Medical University presented the robot it uses to conduct nucleic acid testing. The device is designed to complete the process of patient identification, collection of sampling tools, self-service sampling and storage of samples without human intervention.

Shenzhen-based Biocome Security Technology also presented a robot that can move around a designated area to measure a person’s temperature and send that information for analysis off-site.

“Using robots for temperature measurement saves time and cost,” said Biocome spokesman Fu Jun at the event. “It frees medical workers, who wear layers of protective gear, from repetitive work.”

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