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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This week a look back at our trip to China where we went on the hunt for
innovation. With gassy fabrics, liquid metal,
and a good, solid meal... It probably won't surprise
you if I tell you China makes a lot of stuff, but would you believe it
makes quite this much? In 2011, the country produced
90% of all computers, 80% of all air conditioners
and energy-saving lightbulbs, 70% of all cellphones,
that's just over a billion of them, and they also found time to make 63%
of the world's shoes. And much of all of that would have
come from this place. Welcome to the city of Shenzhen,
in the Guangdong Province. So much of the world's
electronics come from Shenzhen. So much of your electronics
started life here. Cases, components,
chips, circuit boards. Nestled away on the southern coast,
it's called the Workbench of China, Less than 40 years ago,
only 30,000 people lived here. And that explosive growth is built
on foundations of silicon. This week, I'm on a mission
to find out how our things And as the saying goes,
when it comes to electronics, This is the HAX Hardware Accelerator
in downtown Shenzhen. Each year, teams of hopeful
entrepreneurs make a pilgrimage to this place to plan,
prototype and perfect their gadgets But before I show you around,
time for a spot of lunch. We call it micro foods,
so it's insects as the new protein. It is something that's been eaten
for a very long time in all parts The hive is the smallest possible
footprint of producing protein So better than plants,
better than owning a cow? Better than plants, definitely
better than owning a cow. You don't have to add additional
water, they take it out What do they taste like?
You can just try them. What do they taste like?
They taste slightly nutty. Mostly neutral.
Thank you. They can actually be mixed
into any types of recipes. In this way, we just roasted them,
so they are just roasted and crispy. But you can also make them
into a meat patty and make It's a shrimp that came on land
a really long time ago. Living Farms is only one
of the companies currently in residency, and there is no
shortage of interesting ideas. There's the roadie auto guitar
tuner, the skiing boots that track your skiing style,
the orthopaedic foot insert that analyses how you walk,
there's the internet of things farm monitor, and the remote
control fish tank cleaner. This device takes liquid materials,
special formulations, and it converts them into nanofibres
using an electric field. What happens is this little spinning
needle produces a fabric Primarily, this machine is aimed
at researchers right now. We are looking to get
into the market and help people bring advanced textiles
to a commercially viable point by offering a fast,
affordable lab machine. Shenzhen has a wealth
of manufacturers and vendors, so for prospective in the bay area,
there might be two CNC shops that There's hundreds, maybe thousands
in Shenzhen, and they're quick, cheap, they respond to text
messages, and it allows us to do work in a short amount
of time for cheap. It's high quality work as well,
so good for manufacturing HAX has been here since 2011,
and over 100 companies It's a little empty today
because there is another HAX office over in the US,
and at the moment, everyone is over there showing off their creations,
including the boss. It's very bizarre that
you're in San Francisco Why do you have a space
here and a space in San Francisco? Yes, the early stage action
is there, definitely, and all of the entrepreneurs
in the world who go to Shenzhen and work with suppliers to build
the best products to get to market, but after investing and accelerating
about 145 companies in the last few years, I realised it was important
to sell those products, and it is equally difficult to sell
a product as to build it. So we have been building the next
phase of the programme The big appeal of HAX
is that it is within a short walk of some of the best and biggest
electronic markets in the world. That means instant access
to the cornucopia of components you will need to source
if you want your thing There, I said the word
"thing" again. The markets of Shenzhen are so vast
that it would be foolhardy So we are at Singapore Airport
and heading to Hong Kong. Andrew Huang, or Bunny for short,
is an MIT alumnus, entrepreneur That's hacker in the breaking
and building stuff He's also written a few books,
including Hacking The XBox, and most recently, The Essential
Guide To Electronics in Shenzhen. Our core product are the peel
and stick electronic LEDs. Today, Bunny is making
the pilgrimage to Shenzhen, I'm tagging along to find out
what it is all about. This is where I come to do
a lot of searching to see what is available,
what is selling and not selling. There are these cables here,
and these cables there. That's the whole idea
of this market. Discounts are easily 10-1 over
what you can get in online retail They are made here and then resold
there. And, I'm afraid to say,
it's not long before I succumb So far, we've only walked
a couple of levels. So if you can't find it
on this floor, don't worry, This guy's selling a variety
of switches. These are the battery
holders inside toys. Connectors you'd find
inside mobile phones. I could come here and ask her today,
I want a wire that's a little bit longer,
and she'll go ahead and make up 1,000 for me and have them ready
for me by the next day. A lot of times when I come
to Shenzhen, I don't even I buy everything I need as it's
such a hassle to get Then I just leave them
in the hotel when I leave. It's cheaper than paying
for checked luggage. They sell soldering irons,
diagonal cutters, development kits Within ten metres of here,
you can probably get everything you need to take some simple project
and bring it into existence. I've spent a decade
here looking around. By the time you walk from one end
of the market to the other, the beginning of the market has
already reinvented itself. Do you shake on it or
have some kind of...? It's a crazy thing where sometimes
you say you need 10,000 of these parts, and it's not
a small amount of money. A lot of times a person
will come along and say, I could stiff them and not
come with the money, And a lot of time they don't
ask for a deposit. Just come back and they
will have them for you. Rather you than me,
if you do this regularly. Hello and welcome
to the Week in Tech. It was the week that Tesla boss Elon
Musk unveiled a new longer lasting battery for its electric cars. The
always understated Musk Colebee 100 kilowatts an hour battery pack a
profound milestone and claimed it would allow the new model S to go
from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, that is once ludicrous mode has been
engaged. Yes, we're not making this up, there's actually a setting on
the car called ludicrous mode. Other notable launches this week included
an update to android's mobile operating system that also promises
longer battery life and a new app from Facebook that completely does
away with privacy settings. It is, of course, aimed at teenagers. It
was also the week that Super Mario made a bit of a comeback. Versed in
the form of the Japanese Prime Minister at the closing of the Rio
Olympics, and then in even stranger fashion as a hamster. -- first. Oh,
into webs, you really do spoil us. And finally high-tech welding
goggles aside, VR's biggest problem is allowing users to feel as well as
feel the action. A start-up thinks it has the solution in the forms of
these XO skillet or gloves, which it claims can imitate the physical
sensation felt when touching or holding a host of different objects.
No word on when they will be available to the public or how much
they might cost. But the mind boggles at some of the things they
might be used for! This is another chance to see our trip to Shenzhen
in China, which is not all cables and chips you know! It's starting to
become known for its fully fledged devices too. Until a couple of years
ago, the name while wayward probably have meant nothing to you in the
West, but it's now the third biggest maker of smart phones in the world.
It certainly sees itself as a global player. This huge company has over
170,000 employees, 60,000 of which work here on the Shenzhen campus.
There's one thing I'll say about the Huawei campus,
It's here that new devices are developed and tested.
Welcome to my own private anechoic chamber.
This particular box here is where they put their network
And after all that stress, it's time for lunch, again.
Yeah, it's becoming a bit of a theme really, isn't it?
But on a campus this big, the midday meal itself can be a bit
Right, so it's 11:38am, and I'm reliably informed
in the next few minutes this place is going to fill up like crazy.
And now it's 12:00pm, and everybody has eaten.
If it looks like everyone's in a rush, well, they are.
The quicker they eat, the longer they have
I kid you not, having a roll-up bed under your desk
Despite the huge numbers, Huawei's path to world domination
It's still trying to lift a ban on providing network equipment
to the US, after it and fellow Chinese manufacturer ZTE
were accused of building back doors into their networking equipment,
which could allow the Chinese government to snoop on US data.
It's something Huawei's founder denied in a BBC interview last year.
There's no way we can possibly penetrate into other people's
systems, and we have never received such a request
But the company carries on undeterred, and is still focused
Its latest tablet, the MateBook, is set to launch in the States next
Now, if Shenzhen is the R department, then the neighbouring
city of Dongguan, about an hour's drive away, is the factory floor.
Time to hook up with Bunny again, as he visits a factory to see
if it's suitable to make his new product.
All the bits and bobs that you see inside a phone or electronic gadgets
They can make different products just by reconfiguring
If I go ahead and squeegee that solder right onto the board...
And everything gets stuck to that, does it?
This machine is called a chip shooter.
So it's a robot that's able to shoot chips onto this board.
Listen to that, it sounds like a machine gun as well.
Once the machines have placed the components,
everything goes into a big oven, which melts the solder and sticks
It's like one of those hotel toasters, isn't it?
Where the bread goes in and very slowly comes round.
In fact, if you look at some of the hobbyist DIY crowd,
they will actually essentially replicate this at home
It's still quite warm, so be careful with it.
Machines like these allow even a relatively small factory like this
But humans are still needed in this room, mainly for quality control.
And across the way, there's even more of them.
This is your typical assembly-line, your material comes in the front.
She's responsible for putting on glue, she's responsible
for putting on connectors, she's responsible for putting
on diodes, resistors, so on and so forth, until they pop
It turns out that, for example, it's really hard to build robots
that can reach into a box full of components like this,
figure out there's a little line here, there's a diode,
you have to figure out which way to put it,
and then drop it in the board right in the hole.
So, even here, the human's days are numbered.
Wages are rising in Dongguan as businesses compete
Because of that, factories are looking to automate even larger
Case in point, Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPhone amongst
other gadgets, recently revealed that it had more
than halved its workforce in one factory, replacing 60,000 workers
There is one task up here though that I think everyone is glad
You see that pool of liquid metal?
That is the T-1000 in there, right now.
Well, until the rise of the machines, the humans
Never mind all this speech recognition, I want to type stuff.
I tell you what, blink and you miss a mass movement of people here.
So those keyboards could be in the boxes, into the storage room
and then onto the shelf within about a week,
But what about a mobile phone in your hands four minutes
Let's put four minutes on the clock, because that's what China's biggest
They've let us inside their largest robot-run warehouse to show us just
how they can deliver, often in hours, sometimes in just
JD.com shift 3 million orders a year from the latest
Well, you might need those in under four minutes.
20,000 packages an hour are sorted here, not by hand,
Robots pack, pick, unpack and shelve, computers track,
As you can see, things move pretty quickly around here.
Each parcel goes along that conveyor belt, and then
It's scanned by that bar coder, which tells the machine which one
of these shoots to send that parcel to.
That will then be taken to one of over 100 different district
Which means that actually now in this warehouse where they used
to have 500 people doing this job, just with this row of shoots along
This is one of the first places in China where machines
could replace workers entirely over the next few years.
These are their plans for a fully automated warehouse,
And self-driving vehicles we know about.
So drones will reach the parts that others struggle to get to.
This isn't just talk, last month JD revealed their own prototypes
for carrying anything up to the size of a home computer
There basically would be 200,000 spots on the map where we can
They will be responsible for distributing to the villagers.
But even if drones were allowed to fly anywhere, and they won't be,
it would be still tricky to deliver something in just four minutes.
That's JD's record, so how did they manage it?
Well, this is one of more than 100 much smaller delivery centres around
What they've found is if you can get one of these packages to one
of these local delivery places before it's even been ordered,
then you don't have to wait for the package to come
You've seen the big data, we analyse the purchase pattern,
we predict which small community is going to have those
And then we deliver before the ordering happens.
It's like Minority Report with shopping.
We tailed the electric scooter to see if the kettle I'd randomly
chosen could be delivered in less time than it would take to boil.
Now you see we've caught a red light there, and that's going to cost
Underneath that helmet he's going to be absolutely fuming.
He's just gone down the bike lane and I think we've lost him.
In fairness, this purchase hadn't been predicted,
so it had to come all the way from the massive Asia 1 warehouse.
Still, a robot and China's very own Stig delivered
He's found the place, and he's off the bike.
So how much over the four-minute record was he?
We finally made it, that one took about two hours and ten minutes.
It would be on the sixth floor, wouldn't it?
Dan Simmons in the suburbs of Shanghai.
And that's it for us in China for this week,
Next week we are coming bang up to date in the UK. Thank you for
watching and we will see you then.