Latest news features and opinion on technology, covering everything from AI innovation to smartphone makers and apps. 

‘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
This sweater will ensure your family is socially distant over the holidays
Ugly Christmas sweaters just got an upgrade for 2020, and they are made for a socially distant holiday. American home security company SimpliSafe has tackled the Christmas restrictions with a Social Distancing Sweater prototype, rigged with motion sensors that set of a “screeching” alarm and flashing lights when someone steps closer than six feet of the wearer. According to a company press release and advertisement, the sweater will help wearers say, “‘happy holidays’ and “‘back off!’” all at once. SimpliSafe creative director Wade Devers said in a statement:  “As the experts on protection, albeit home protection, we wanted to give people a playful way to protect themselves during this year
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
Artificial intelligence proves faster and smarter than human lawyers
In the first competition of its kind in China, 16 lawyers and law students battled against an artificial intelligence (AI) program to analyze a series of legal contracts, one of the most common and often tiresome tasks at law firms. The AI program completed the task in 60 seconds and identified more risks in the contracts than lawyers, according to a report in China Daily.  The AI also scored an accuracy rate of 96% - higher than the lawyers’ score, although the test administrators did not reveal their results. But while lawyers might be embarrassed by losing to a robot, they should feel buoyed that the best results in evaluating the five legal contracts came when AI and humans worked toge
China claims a quantum breakthrough to build the world’s fastest supercomputer
Just over a year ago, Google declared it had conquered quantum supremacy, building a supercomputer that could perform an elaborate operation in 200 seconds.  But just as the race for quantum computing looked set to be potentially sealed by the United States, China last week claimed its new prototype had achieved an even bigger breakthrough – and could process a calculation 10 billion times faster than Google’s “Sycamore” machine. Using a process called “Gaussian boson sampling,” researchers said their Jiuzhang prototype quantum computer took a little over three minutes to complete a task that the world’s fastest conventional machine would not be able to complete in 600 million years. “This a
Enjoy a perfect holiday snooze with these 5 sleep-tech products
The Chinese people are not sleeping well. According to a new study from March 2020, co-authored by Xilinmen, a mattress company, and the Chinese Sleep Research Society, about 36.1% of the Chinese respondents said they have trouble sleeping, which roughly translates to 400 million people. The report says the average sleep duration in China is about 6.92 hours per night, below the 7 to 9 hours recommended for adults. The number is also shorter with the younger generation. For people born in the 1970s, the average is 7.22 hours, while for people born after 2000, the average is 6.45 hours. It takes a long time for people to fall asleep too, at an average of 23.5 minutes. In general, people go to
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
Fed up with facial recognition technology? Here is how to outsmart it
Face masks can help protect against the coronavirus, but they may not be enough to hide from increasingly prevalent and powerful facial recognition technology. The global pandemic has seen governments deploy monitoring systems to help detect coronavirus, enforce quarantines and monitor social distancing. One controversial new tool has been facial recognition technology, with some companies advertising that masks are no barrier to their surveillance. It has also been used by police to keep an eye on protest movements worldwide. But some have sought to subvert this technology, armed with anti-surveillance masks, make-up, clothing and even lasers. Mark Andrejevic, an expert in surveillance and
China’s deep-space antenna tunes into Mars mission
China's first deep-space antenna array system has been put into use at the Kashgar satellite monitoring station in western China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Four antenna dishes, each measuring about 115ft in diameter, form the newly commissioned system. The array has already been put to work supporting the Mars exploration mission of the Chinese probe Tianwen-1.   
What 5G means for the world, and for you
As the latest advance in mobile communications, 5G has been promised as the future of technology.  That development is expected to rev up digitization across traditional industries and spur major growth in the coming decade.  Initial commercial 5G mobile services were rolled out last year in South Korea, the United States, Australia, Britain, Switzerland, Spain and Monaco.  The roll-out of 5G mobile network services across China, with the world’s biggest internet user population and largest smartphone market, is already forecast to spur new growth in the country’s information technology industry by $491 billion in the five years leading up to 2024. While most people see 5G as a technical u