China Focus: Intelligent technologies, applications help people live smarter lives

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A staff member reacts with a robot at the fifth World Intelligence Congress at Tianjin Meijiang Conference and Exhibition Center in north China's Tianjin, May 23, 2021. The fifth World Intelligence Congress, a major artificial intelligence (AI) event in China, kicked off in north China's Tianjin Municipality on Thursday, highlighting frontier AI technologies and applications. The four-day event, with the theme of "New Era of Intelligence: Empowering New Development, Fostering New Pattern," has attracted the participation of over 240 AI companies and institutions. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

TIANJIN, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Onlookers in an exhibition area at the fifth World Intelligence Congress, a major artificial intelligence (AI) event that concluded Sunday in north China's Tianjin Municipality, were treated to a musical performance like no other -- from a band of both robots and humans.

The four-day event, themed "New Era of Intelligence: Empowering New Development, Fostering a New Pattern," attracted the participation of over 240 AI companies and institutions, bringing with them frontier AI technologies and applications.

At the exhibition booth of Hisense, a Chinese home appliances brand, visitors waited in line to take a closer look at an intelligent refrigerator. It can recommend menus based on the food it contains, the season, and the health information of family members. It can also teach people to cook through videos.

"We are trying to apply AI technologies to our products. We invest a lot in technological research and development every year. The era of artificial intelligence has arrived and we want to seize the opportunity," said Wang Yanpeng, a representative at the booth.

Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, exhibited unmanned logistics vehicles and parcel-delivery robots, which also caught visitors' attention.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has promoted the development of online shopping. The booming business also pushed the logistics industry to make a change," said Feng Zengchuang, who works for Cainiao Network in Tianjin, adding that "with the rapid application of intelligent technologies in the logistics sector, our daily parcel-handling volume has increased by 30 percent year on year."

With the continuous upgrading of consumption, new payment methods have come into sight. A red card, the same size as a debit card, shone at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's exhibition stand.

"If you want to transfer money to someone, you just need to touch your card to theirs. The payment can be completed without the internet. It will be particularly convenient for the elderly," said a bank employee.

The application of intelligent technologies is transforming daily life.

At a residential community in the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city, jogging routes and exercise equipment are fitted with facial recognition technologies, which can capture residents' facial data and record their exercise times and calorie consumption.

"The intelligent facilities help me exercise more efficiently. The elderly also benefit from the intelligent technologies," said a senior resident surnamed Li.

Residents in the community also have intelligent speaker boxes in their homes, which can help them check the latest vegetable prices and the costs of water and heating, and contact the community doctors for online medical consultations.

In a community library, readers only need to tell a robot the name of a book and that robot will lead them to it. With a geomagnetism-aided navigation system and 5G technology, the robots have a positioning accuracy of one to two meters.

"AI has changed our lives," said Sun Ning, a professor at the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University. "The AI technologies have not only been applied in the high-end market but also brought convenience to people's daily lives."

According to statistics released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the global artificial intelligence industry hit 156.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, with an annual growth of 12 percent.

"Tianjin has created a strong atmosphere of technological innovation since the first intelligence congress was held in 2017," said Li Xiaohong, president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. "The congress will become a high-end platform for international scientific and technological cooperation and exchange."

Over the past four congresses, 348 cooperation agreements have been inked, with a total agreement investment of about 353.2 billion yuan (about 54.9 billion U.S. dollars), according to the Tianjin Industrial and Information Technology Bureau.

"The upgrading of the intelligent industry should meet the needs of economic and social development. The industry should expand the application of artificial intelligence in more areas and promote the development of digital society," said Chen Zhaoxiong, chairman of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation. Enditem

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