Asia's newest big ideas in the world of technology.

Chinese work culture tries to find its Zen
China’s grueling 72-hour work week has become a defining feature of its rise into a modern tech powerhouse. But now, young entrepreneurs are hoping an older tradition can provide a guiding light. Known as “Buddhist entrepreneurs,” they are thumbing their noses at China’s controversial “996” work culture – which stands for working 9am to 9pm six days a week. Among those embracing the philosophy are Su Hua, the CEO of TikTok-like short video app Kuaishou, and Chen Rui, the chairman of one of China’s most popular video platforms Bilibili. They espouse a more chilled-out approach when it comes to work, choosing when, where and how many hours they work. But many entrepreneurs and investors are s
Chinese companies can create the next Clubhouse, just not in China
The surging popularity of Clubhouse has many people asking if it will take the mantle as the next up-and-coming startup, and Chinese companies see an opportunity to take advantage of the business model.  Just not in China.  Macro Lai Jinnan, the founder and CEO of Lizhi, a Chinese podcasting app, said in an interview with the  South China Morning Post that Clubhouse-like apps are unlikely to succeed in China because of the country’s strict content regulations, but he believes Chinese companies are still well-positioned to capitalize the new social audio app craze in other countries. “It will be very difficult to create a Clubhouse-like app in China. The form of Clubhouse will most likely be
Remember Groupon? A new version is making waves in China
Traditional fruit and vegetable wholesalers are collapsing under the weight of the latest e-commerce trend to hit China. In the space of just a few months, China’s tech giants have spent billions of dollars making buying in bulk sexy to almost 700 million Chinese. While the pandemic pushed online grocery shopping to popularity levels never before seen in China, the community group buying trend has shaken up the industry. With just a few swipes on their mobile phone, consumers can order groceries and household items via internet giants such as Didi Chuxing, Meituan and Pinduoduo, who use location-based technology platforms to pool and coordinate orders.  This generates bulk volume purchases
‘I felt naked’: Chinese worker claims she was gifted a surveillance cushion
A Chinese employee has complained of feeling “naked at work” after discovering that bosses were collecting data from her posterior without her knowledge. The administration employee, Wang, who worked for Hangzhou-based, high-tech company, Hebo Technology in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, was shocked and upset to learn that the ‘smart cushion’ her bosses had given her and nine other employees, supposedly for their wellbeing, was instead being used to monitor their behavior at work. The cushion even alerted her bosses when they were away from their desks. Using social media to voice her outrage, Wang said at first she had welcomed the ‘smart cushion,’ believing it was given to monitor the
The cautionary tale of China’s bankrupt bike-sharing empires
In 2015, China’s bike-sharing start-ups were pedaling towards massive profits, thanks to billions of dollars of investment capital. Following a similar business model as Uber, but for bikes, Mobike and Ofo quickly swept across China, their colorful bikes flooding city streets as they provided an emission-free solution to China’s congestion. Both start-ups quickly became unicorns, surpassing US$1 billion in valuation each and growing to operate in about 20 countries.  But five years later, the dockless bicycle-sharing phenomenon - hailed as one of the world’s hottest start-up trends - has officially gone bust, leaving an array of big-name investors and angry riders in their wake. Last week,
Fears for fate of China's elderly after pandemic digital boom
Since the coronavirus outbreak, 72-year-old Wang Yingru feels like a stranger in an unfamiliar world. Simple everyday pleasures she used to enjoy, such as visits to the supermarket or using public transport to see friends, are now as impossible as making her own medical appointments. She feels lost and left behind, unable to do anything or go anywhere without the help of her children. To better contain the outbreak and prevent further spread, China quickly digitized its private services this year and placed more emphasis on information collecting.  The public needs to show a digital QR code to enter shopping centers, banks and use public transportation. Hospitals have also rapidly moved res
Fake viewers, fake transactions, big business
In 2018, when China’s live-streaming industry was growing at lightning speed, Huang Xiaobing thought her one-year career as an online live broadcaster had hit a bottleneck. So she decided to start an agency in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin focused on entertainment live-streaming. The company managed online broadcasters who sang, danced or chatted with audiences in return for virtual gifts that could be converted to money. The agency took a cut. In her new role, she helped the aspiring live-streamers gain popularity in the crowded online space.  One of the common ways to achieve this was to buy virtual gifts for live-streamers under the guise of real viewers to boost their apparent po
Takeout troubles for Chinese food delivery apps
For Mike Wong, the owner of a restaurant called Hong Kong Grassroots Canteen with two branches in Beijing, takeout service has long been something of a headache. In China, the delivery app Meituan Dianping and its rival Ele.me dominate meal delivery services. (Ele.me is owned by Alibaba Group, the parent company of Inkstone). Users log on to the apps and order from the restaurants listed. Wong says Meituan charges a minimum of 20% commission on each order – a significant amount for a small business. “My profit margin is only 10% to 15%. So for a takeaway order, all my profits have to be given to Meituan.” Wong says many people order takeout for items as simple as a cup of noodles or a glas
These tiny robot worms may be able to connect to the brain
In southern China, there is an ancient form of black magic known as Gu. According to folklore, a small poisonous creature similar to a worm could be grown in a pot and used to control a person’s mind. Now a team of researchers in Shenzhen have created a robot worm that could enter the human body, move along blood vessels and hook up to neurons. “In a way it is similar to Gu,” said Xu Tiantian, a lead scientist for the project at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. “But our purpose is not developing a biological weapon. It’s the opposite,” she added. In recent years, science labs around the world have produced many micro-bots. So far, they have mostly