Tech

Smart tech for pets

Electronic device-makers such as Hong Kong's SUGA are looking to cash in on China's boom in so-called pet wearables, such as smart collars, leashes and feeders. 

Pet ownership, denounced as a decadent and bourgeois habit after the Communist Party took power in China more than 60 years ago, has become popular again among the country’s growing middle class.

Lia Yang Liu, 39, a lecturer in Chinese literature at a Beijing university, bought a GPS tracker that attaches to her dog’s collar.

“The device really helped me once, when I loosened the collar and he just ran out of the park,” said Liu.

She is sceptical of other products though. “I think the commercials just exaggerate the effects. I don’t believe devices can translate a pet’s language for us.”

The electronic pet device market in China is still quite small but by some estimates is growing by a fifth or even a quarter every year, drawing developers and producers such as PetPace LLC, Mars Petcare’s Whistle Labs Inc, i4C Innovations, Fitbark and DeLaval.

Alfred Ng, chief technology officer at Suga, estimates China is now 5 percent of a global market that U.S.-based market intelligence firm Transparency Market Research estimates was worth $1 billion at the end of 2016.

Ng forecasts that China’s share of the market will jump to more than 20 percent by 2024, by which time Transparency Market Research estimates the global market will be worth at least $2.5 billion.

SUGA produces wearable tech that monitors pets’ health and food intake. It is also eyeing a device to check pet emotions.

Chen Xufeng, marketing manager of Guangzhou-based software developer Guangdong Lekong IOT Technology Co Ltd, expects the China market in pet electronic devices to grow 20 percent to 25 percent in the next two to three years.

“There are more than 10 million pieces of wearable products for pets sold in the Chinese market every year,” Chen said.

IDTechEx, an independent market research firm, said there are 300 manufacturers of wearable pet gadgets globally and almost half are based in China. It predicted the number will rise to 500 as the market expands.

Ava Lui, 33, an IT professional in Hong Kong, has three cats and a dog and has fitted her pets with collars that can monitor their activity and food intake.

“I just wish that they will never get sick, they won’t get hurt. The less I take them to see vets the more time I can spend playing with them. That would be ideal,” she said.


AR overtaking VR

Augmented reality (AR) is seeing strong gains among Americans thanks to social networks, market research firm eMarketer said on Monday.

Its new report said that some 40 million Americans will engage with AR monthly this year, up 30 per cent from last year.

AR gadgetry overlays holograms on the real world in view, while virtual reality (VR) devices, such as those from Oculus and Sony's PlayStation, immerse users in fantasy worlds.

The report said growth in AR is being fuelled by Snapchat Lenses, Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories, while VR usage is driven by 360-degree videos on social networks.

Popular mobile game Pokemon Go uses AR technology.

eMarketer said that by 2019, the number of AR users is expected to top 54.4 million, or nearly one in five Internet users.

VR, meanwhile, will not reach mass adoption in the US in the foreseeable future, according to eMarketer. - AFP


Interactive exhibition opens in Beijing

A new digital interactive exhibition in Beijing allows visitors to create their own art and see it immediately reflected in the work on display around them.

The project, Living Digital Forest and Future Park, is the first to be opened in China by Japanese art collective teamLab.

The Tokyo-based company said its work aims to blend art, science and technology into an interactive experience.

Visitors can use their smartphones to send commands to change the artworks, while children can scan their drawn art and have it incorporated into an animated world of colourful rockets and vehicles.

The exhibition will run until Oct 10 in Beijing. - REUTERS

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