Designed in China: Part Two Click


Designed in China: Part Two

For the second episode of Click's Designed in China special, the Click team travel to China's tech capital, Shenzhen, to meet with some of China's largest technology companies.


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Transcript


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Now on BBC News, stick around for Click.

:00:00.:00:08.

This week a look back at our trip to China where we went on the hunt for

:00:09.:00:12.

innovation. With gassy fabrics, liquid metal,

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and a good, solid meal... It probably won't surprise

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you if I tell you China makes a lot of stuff, but would you believe it

:00:16.:00:58.

makes quite this much? In 2011, the country produced

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90% of all computers, 80% of all air conditioners

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and energy-saving lightbulbs, 70% of all cellphones,

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that's just over a billion of them, and they also found time to make 63%

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of the world's shoes. And much of all of that would have

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come from this place. Welcome to the city of Shenzhen,

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in the Guangdong Province. So much of the world's

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electronics come from Shenzhen. So much of your electronics

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started life here. Cases, components,

:01:39.:01:40.

chips, circuit boards. Nestled away on the southern coast,

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it's called the Workbench of China, Less than 40 years ago,

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only 30,000 people lived here. And that explosive growth is built

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on foundations of silicon. This week, I'm on a mission

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to find out how our things And as the saying goes,

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when it comes to electronics, This is the HAX Hardware Accelerator

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in downtown Shenzhen. Each year, teams of hopeful

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entrepreneurs make a pilgrimage to this place to plan,

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prototype and perfect their gadgets But before I show you around,

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time for a spot of lunch. We call it micro foods,

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so it's insects as the new protein. It is something that's been eaten

:02:48.:02:51.

for a very long time in all parts The hive is the smallest possible

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footprint of producing protein So better than plants,

:02:55.:03:03.

better than owning a cow? Better than plants, definitely

:03:04.:03:12.

better than owning a cow. You don't have to add additional

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water, they take it out What do they taste like?

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You can just try them. What do they taste like?

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They taste slightly nutty. Mostly neutral.

:03:33.:03:38.

Thank you. They can actually be mixed

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into any types of recipes. In this way, we just roasted them,

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so they are just roasted and crispy. But you can also make them

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into a meat patty and make It's a shrimp that came on land

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a really long time ago. Living Farms is only one

:03:56.:04:12.

of the companies currently in residency, and there is no

:04:13.:04:24.

shortage of interesting ideas. There's the roadie auto guitar

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tuner, the skiing boots that track your skiing style,

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the orthopaedic foot insert that analyses how you walk,

:04:36.:04:37.

there's the internet of things farm monitor, and the remote

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control fish tank cleaner. This device takes liquid materials,

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special formulations, and it converts them into nanofibres

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using an electric field. What happens is this little spinning

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needle produces a fabric Primarily, this machine is aimed

:04:55.:04:57.

at researchers right now. We are looking to get

:04:58.:05:02.

into the market and help people bring advanced textiles

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to a commercially viable point by offering a fast,

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affordable lab machine. Shenzhen has a wealth

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of manufacturers and vendors, so for prospective in the bay area,

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there might be two CNC shops that There's hundreds, maybe thousands

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in Shenzhen, and they're quick, cheap, they respond to text

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messages, and it allows us to do work in a short amount

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of time for cheap. It's high quality work as well,

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so good for manufacturing HAX has been here since 2011,

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and over 100 companies It's a little empty today

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because there is another HAX office over in the US,

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and at the moment, everyone is over there showing off their creations,

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including the boss. It's very bizarre that

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you're in San Francisco Why do you have a space

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here and a space in San Francisco? Yes, the early stage action

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is there, definitely, and all of the entrepreneurs

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in the world who go to Shenzhen and work with suppliers to build

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the best products to get to market, but after investing and accelerating

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about 145 companies in the last few years, I realised it was important

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to sell those products, and it is equally difficult to sell

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a product as to build it. So we have been building the next

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phase of the programme The big appeal of HAX

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is that it is within a short walk of some of the best and biggest

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electronic markets in the world. That means instant access

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to the cornucopia of components you will need to source

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if you want your thing There, I said the word

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"thing" again. The markets of Shenzhen are so vast

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that it would be foolhardy So we are at Singapore Airport

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and heading to Hong Kong. Andrew Huang, or Bunny for short,

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is an MIT alumnus, entrepreneur That's hacker in the breaking

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and building stuff He's also written a few books,

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including Hacking The XBox, and most recently, The Essential

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Guide To Electronics in Shenzhen. Our core product are the peel

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and stick electronic LEDs. Today, Bunny is making

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the pilgrimage to Shenzhen, I'm tagging along to find out

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what it is all about. This is where I come to do

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a lot of searching to see what is available,

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what is selling and not selling. There are these cables here,

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and these cables there. That's the whole idea

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of this market. Discounts are easily 10-1 over

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what you can get in online retail They are made here and then resold

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there. And, I'm afraid to say,

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it's not long before I succumb So far, we've only walked

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a couple of levels. So if you can't find it

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on this floor, don't worry, This guy's selling a variety

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of switches. These are the battery

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holders inside toys. Connectors you'd find

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inside mobile phones. I could come here and ask her today,

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I want a wire that's a little bit longer,

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and she'll go ahead and make up 1,000 for me and have them ready

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for me by the next day. A lot of times when I come

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to Shenzhen, I don't even I buy everything I need as it's

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such a hassle to get Then I just leave them

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in the hotel when I leave. It's cheaper than paying

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for checked luggage. They sell soldering irons,

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diagonal cutters, development kits Within ten metres of here,

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you can probably get everything you need to take some simple project

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and bring it into existence. I've spent a decade

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here looking around. By the time you walk from one end

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of the market to the other, the beginning of the market has

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already reinvented itself. Do you shake on it or

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have some kind of...? It's a crazy thing where sometimes

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you say you need 10,000 of these parts, and it's not

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a small amount of money. A lot of times a person

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will come along and say, I could stiff them and not

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come with the money, And a lot of time they don't

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ask for a deposit. Just come back and they

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will have them for you. Rather you than me,

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if you do this regularly. Hello and welcome

:11:06.:11:07.

to the Week in Tech. It was the week that Tesla boss Elon

:11:08.:11:38.

Musk unveiled a new longer lasting battery for its electric cars. The

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always understated Musk Colebee 100 kilowatts an hour battery pack a

:11:46.:11:49.

profound milestone and claimed it would allow the new model S to go

:11:50.:11:56.

from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, that is once ludicrous mode has been

:11:57.:12:00.

engaged. Yes, we're not making this up, there's actually a setting on

:12:01.:12:04.

the car called ludicrous mode. Other notable launches this week included

:12:05.:12:08.

an update to android's mobile operating system that also promises

:12:09.:12:12.

longer battery life and a new app from Facebook that completely does

:12:13.:12:17.

away with privacy settings. It is, of course, aimed at teenagers. It

:12:18.:12:21.

was also the week that Super Mario made a bit of a comeback. Versed in

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the form of the Japanese Prime Minister at the closing of the Rio

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Olympics, and then in even stranger fashion as a hamster. -- first. Oh,

:12:33.:12:37.

into webs, you really do spoil us. And finally high-tech welding

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goggles aside, VR's biggest problem is allowing users to feel as well as

:12:43.:12:47.

feel the action. A start-up thinks it has the solution in the forms of

:12:48.:12:52.

these XO skillet or gloves, which it claims can imitate the physical

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sensation felt when touching or holding a host of different objects.

:12:58.:13:00.

No word on when they will be available to the public or how much

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they might cost. But the mind boggles at some of the things they

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might be used for! This is another chance to see our trip to Shenzhen

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in China, which is not all cables and chips you know! It's starting to

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become known for its fully fledged devices too. Until a couple of years

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ago, the name while wayward probably have meant nothing to you in the

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West, but it's now the third biggest maker of smart phones in the world.

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It certainly sees itself as a global player. This huge company has over

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170,000 employees, 60,000 of which work here on the Shenzhen campus.

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There's one thing I'll say about the Huawei campus,

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It's here that new devices are developed and tested.

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Welcome to my own private anechoic chamber.

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This particular box here is where they put their network

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And after all that stress, it's time for lunch, again.

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Yeah, it's becoming a bit of a theme really, isn't it?

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But on a campus this big, the midday meal itself can be a bit

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Right, so it's 11:38am, and I'm reliably informed

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in the next few minutes this place is going to fill up like crazy.

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And now it's 12:00pm, and everybody has eaten.

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If it looks like everyone's in a rush, well, they are.

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The quicker they eat, the longer they have

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I kid you not, having a roll-up bed under your desk

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Despite the huge numbers, Huawei's path to world domination

:14:59.:15:04.

It's still trying to lift a ban on providing network equipment

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to the US, after it and fellow Chinese manufacturer ZTE

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were accused of building back doors into their networking equipment,

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which could allow the Chinese government to snoop on US data.

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It's something Huawei's founder denied in a BBC interview last year.

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There's no way we can possibly penetrate into other people's

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systems, and we have never received such a request

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But the company carries on undeterred, and is still focused

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Its latest tablet, the MateBook, is set to launch in the States next

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Now, if Shenzhen is the R department, then the neighbouring

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city of Dongguan, about an hour's drive away, is the factory floor.

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Time to hook up with Bunny again, as he visits a factory to see

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if it's suitable to make his new product.

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All the bits and bobs that you see inside a phone or electronic gadgets

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They can make different products just by reconfiguring

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If I go ahead and squeegee that solder right onto the board...

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And everything gets stuck to that, does it?

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This machine is called a chip shooter.

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So it's a robot that's able to shoot chips onto this board.

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Listen to that, it sounds like a machine gun as well.

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Once the machines have placed the components,

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everything goes into a big oven, which melts the solder and sticks

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It's like one of those hotel toasters, isn't it?

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Where the bread goes in and very slowly comes round.

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In fact, if you look at some of the hobbyist DIY crowd,

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they will actually essentially replicate this at home

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It's still quite warm, so be careful with it.

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Machines like these allow even a relatively small factory like this

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But humans are still needed in this room, mainly for quality control.

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And across the way, there's even more of them.

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This is your typical assembly-line, your material comes in the front.

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She's responsible for putting on glue, she's responsible

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for putting on connectors, she's responsible for putting

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on diodes, resistors, so on and so forth, until they pop

:17:36.:17:38.

It turns out that, for example, it's really hard to build robots

:17:39.:17:47.

that can reach into a box full of components like this,

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figure out there's a little line here, there's a diode,

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you have to figure out which way to put it,

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and then drop it in the board right in the hole.

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So, even here, the human's days are numbered.

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Wages are rising in Dongguan as businesses compete

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Because of that, factories are looking to automate even larger

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Case in point, Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPhone amongst

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other gadgets, recently revealed that it had more

:18:23.:18:24.

than halved its workforce in one factory, replacing 60,000 workers

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There is one task up here though that I think everyone is glad

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You see that pool of liquid metal?

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That is the T-1000 in there, right now.

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Well, until the rise of the machines, the humans

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Never mind all this speech recognition, I want to type stuff.

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I tell you what, blink and you miss a mass movement of people here.

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So those keyboards could be in the boxes, into the storage room

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and then onto the shelf within about a week,

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But what about a mobile phone in your hands four minutes

:19:26.:19:34.

Let's put four minutes on the clock, because that's what China's biggest

:19:35.:19:44.

They've let us inside their largest robot-run warehouse to show us just

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how they can deliver, often in hours, sometimes in just

:19:53.:19:55.

JD.com shift 3 million orders a year from the latest

:19:56.:20:03.

Well, you might need those in under four minutes.

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20,000 packages an hour are sorted here, not by hand,

:20:16.:20:19.

Robots pack, pick, unpack and shelve, computers track,

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As you can see, things move pretty quickly around here.

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Each parcel goes along that conveyor belt, and then

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It's scanned by that bar coder, which tells the machine which one

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of these shoots to send that parcel to.

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That will then be taken to one of over 100 different district

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Which means that actually now in this warehouse where they used

:20:59.:21:01.

to have 500 people doing this job, just with this row of shoots along

:21:02.:21:05.

This is one of the first places in China where machines

:21:06.:21:11.

could replace workers entirely over the next few years.

:21:12.:21:13.

These are their plans for a fully automated warehouse,

:21:14.:21:16.

And self-driving vehicles we know about.

:21:17.:21:22.

So drones will reach the parts that others struggle to get to.

:21:23.:21:30.

This isn't just talk, last month JD revealed their own prototypes

:21:31.:21:32.

for carrying anything up to the size of a home computer

:21:33.:21:35.

There basically would be 200,000 spots on the map where we can

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They will be responsible for distributing to the villagers.

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But even if drones were allowed to fly anywhere, and they won't be,

:21:59.:22:02.

it would be still tricky to deliver something in just four minutes.

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That's JD's record, so how did they manage it?

:22:05.:22:07.

Well, this is one of more than 100 much smaller delivery centres around

:22:08.:22:10.

What they've found is if you can get one of these packages to one

:22:11.:22:18.

of these local delivery places before it's even been ordered,

:22:19.:22:21.

then you don't have to wait for the package to come

:22:22.:22:24.

You've seen the big data, we analyse the purchase pattern,

:22:25.:22:38.

we predict which small community is going to have those

:22:39.:22:40.

And then we deliver before the ordering happens.

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It's like Minority Report with shopping.

:22:48.:22:48.

We tailed the electric scooter to see if the kettle I'd randomly

:22:49.:22:51.

chosen could be delivered in less time than it would take to boil.

:22:52.:22:55.

Now you see we've caught a red light there, and that's going to cost

:22:56.:22:58.

Underneath that helmet he's going to be absolutely fuming.

:22:59.:23:08.

He's just gone down the bike lane and I think we've lost him.

:23:09.:23:11.

In fairness, this purchase hadn't been predicted,

:23:12.:23:18.

so it had to come all the way from the massive Asia 1 warehouse.

:23:19.:23:22.

Still, a robot and China's very own Stig delivered

:23:23.:23:25.

He's found the place, and he's off the bike.

:23:26.:23:35.

So how much over the four-minute record was he?

:23:36.:23:38.

We finally made it, that one took about two hours and ten minutes.

:23:39.:23:42.

It would be on the sixth floor, wouldn't it?

:23:43.:23:54.

Dan Simmons in the suburbs of Shanghai.

:23:55.:23:56.

And that's it for us in China for this week,

:23:57.:23:58.

Next week we are coming bang up to date in the UK. Thank you for

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watching and we will see you then.

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