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China’s Outsourced Airliner Development Model

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Many emerging-market countries in the global South have built up substantial foreign currency reserves. Much of this has been a response to past foreign currency crises, particularly the Asian Crisis in the late 1990s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Asian_financial_crisis).

But what to do with this often vast wealth? How should it be used to improve economies, human development and people’s lives?

China — whose foreign currency reserves reportedly total US $3.7 trillion — is showing one approach, using the wealth to build industrial capability in sectors traditionally associated with more developed countries, such as aircraft manufacturing.

China is seeking to build a commercial airliner able to compete with the sector’s longstanding giants, Boeing and Airbus. To ensure it can do it to the highest global standards, it is outsourcing much of the parts manufacturing to the best around the world, while keeping the overall design and assembly in China.

Comac, or Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. (http://english.comac.cc/products/ca/pi/), is located outside Shanghai, China’s rapidly growing global business hub. The modern Comac factory is working on building China’s first commercial airliner, the C919. It is also making a smaller jet, the ARJ21.

Comac calls the outsourcing method an “airframer supplier” model. Suppliers provide the components, and Comac designs and assembles the plane.

Countries making the parts include the United States, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

Comac’s dream is to graduate to the top tier of global aircraft manufacturers alongside Boeing and Airbus, which together account for 70 per cent of the global commercial airliner market (Fortune).

At present, this is just an aspiration, with a detailed life-sized plastic model of the C919 – right down to the intricacies of the cockpit instrument panels — all there is to show for the project.

Founded in 2008, Comac ambitiously aims to be making and selling commercial airliners within a decade. State-owned Comac is an amalgamation of various aviation companies, as previous efforts to make a commercial airliner in China had failed. China has invested US $3 billion in the venture.

The name, C919, breaks down as C for China, 9 because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for forever, and 19 because it will carry 190 passengers.

The idea is to target the city-to-city aircraft market which is dominated by Boeing’s 737 and  Airbus’s A320.

China saw huge aviation growth in the first decade of the 21st century, and is expecting that trend to continue. The country is on track to surpass the United States for airline-passenger traffic by 2032 and is already the world’s second largest market (Fortune).

To feed this fast-growing market, China will need an estimated 5,580 new planes by 2032, costing US $780 billion in today’s prices (Boeing).

China has decided, rather than committing this vast investment to purchasing all the aircraft from overseas manufacturers, to instead use this wealth to build a competitive aircraft manufacturing industry to rival the big leaders. This would create jobs in the country and create a multiplier effect as airline industry investment helps the domestic economy.

China already has years of experience manufacturing aircraft parts for foreign companies. Comac makes the tail section of Boeing’s 737, as well as manufacturing cargo door frames for the Airbus’ A320.

More importantly, since 2009 China has assembled A320s for Airbus under license in Tianjin — 130 of them to date (http://www.airbus.com/company/worldwide-presence/airbus-in-china/).

The C919 is similar in some ways to the Airbus A320. They have similar dimensions and are made from similar materials. Comac has hired over 100 foreign experts to help with the project, to ensure quality control meets global standards.

By trying to compete with the world’s best, China is entering a very competitive and complex marketplace. The complexity of modern aircraft (an average of 4 million parts in a typical commercial airliner) means there is no room for mistakes or cutting corners. And this is where China has to change its reputation. The country has experienced several high-profile manufacturing failures due to corner-cutting and corruption. These have included tainted milk products, poorly constructed buildings that collapsed, and high-speed train crashes.

The C919 is an opportunity to show high standards and high quality can be the norm in Chinese manufacturing.

In the 1970s, China designed and built the Y-10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Y-10) in Shanghai, modeled on Boeing’s 707. But it was a failed programme, shut down after the plane flew once.

Those behind the new plane acknowledge that this is a learning experience for China: “Comac must learn how to walk first before running,” Comac chairman Jin Zhuanglong told Fortune magazine.

“I’ve always maintained the point that we won’t be a big challenge for Airbus or Boeing in the short term,” said Jin, who used to work in China’s satellite and spacecraft industry.  “But in terms of some single product, we might be competitive.”

There’s no doubt that China needs planes. China will have constructed 80 new airports between 2011 and 2015 (China Daily). It has already received 1,000 Airbus planes for domestic carriers, quickly bringing fleets to international standards.

State-owned airlines, including China Air, China Southern and China Eastern, dominate 80 per cent of flights. All stand to be a ready market for the C919, which will sell for around US $75 million – US $10 million less than the next generation Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 (Fortune).

Ireland-based budget airline Ryanair is considering being the first Western airline to purchase the C919.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary is confident people will fly on a Chinese-made plane: “Ninety-nine percent of my passengers don’t know what kind of aircraft they are getting on,” O’Leary told Fortune. “You trust the Chinese to make computers and medical devices, and the question is, Would you get on a Chinese aircraft? Of course!”

Brazil has shown it is possible. The Embraer (embraer.com) aircraft company, based in São José dos Campos, is now a US $6 billion a year success story that has won the public’s trust.

Comac’s C919 project is a risk, but the rewards could be enormous.

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: May 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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China Pushing Frontiers of Medical Research

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

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SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY 

Cutting-edge medical research in China is promising to boost human health and development. Futuristic science is being conducted on a large scale and it is hoped this will increase the pace of discovery.

Around the world, rapid progress is being made in understanding the role played by genes and how they affect our overall health and susceptibility to diseases. Other developments are leading to the possibility of creating replacements for organs and other body parts that have been damaged through accidents, disease or genetic faults – without the need for organ donors.

Medical advances straight out of science fiction could be closer than many believe. By using machines and gene therapy, radical new methods will emerge to deal with damage done to human bodies as a result of accidents or disease. These solutions will become, in time, quicker, smaller and cheaper and will be available to more and more countries. They will spread outwards around the global South just as mobile phones and computing electronics have done.

In China, the government is investing heavily in this cutting-edge research and attracting investment and projects from around the world to increase the pace of progress in these areas.

In September 2013, Reuters reported that a 22-year-old man named Xiaolian in Fuzhou, China had a new nose grown on his forehead to replace his original nose that had been damaged in a car accident. Conventional reconstructive surgery was not possible, so this radical new approach was taken.

The advantages of growing a nose on the patient include a reduced chance of rejection by the body when the new organ is attached. Transplants of body parts from other people come with a high risk of rejection and require many drugs to prevent it. Using skin near where the transplant is to take place, on the face, improves the chances of success and the blood vessels in the forehead offer nourishment to grow the new nose.

The procedure works like this: tissue expanders are placed on the patient’s forehead. As it grows, the doctors cut the mass of tissue into the shape of a nose and cartilage from the patient’s ribs is placed inside to give the nose shape. The new proboscis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proboscis) grows under the skin until it is the right size and then transplanted onto the patient’s face where their old nose was.

Many believe this is just the beginning and that in the future replacement organs will be also grown in a lab. And this is where the new medical technology of 3D bioprinting comes into play.

3D printing machines (http://www.k8200.eu/), or fabricators, can create 3D objects based on a design sent from a computer. This concept is now also being applied to biological materials with 3D bioprinters.

Hangzhou Dianzi University of Electronic Science and Technology (hdu.edu.cn) in China launched the Regenovo 3D Bio-printer in August 2013. It prints living tissue and looks like a silver metal frame with various nozzles situated above a platform for printing the tissue. Its makers claim it can print a liver in 40 minutes to an hour or an ear in 50 minutes.

A sheet of hydrogel is placed on the platform and then the bioprinter deposits cells into the hydrogel. As the process is repeated over and over again, layer after layer, a 3D biological structure emerges.

Unique Technology (sinounic.com) in Qingdao, Shandong province has also launched a 3D printer called “Re-human”. It is capable of printing at 15 microns and can operate in temperatures of between 0 and 300 degrees Celsius. Scientists there are working on clinical trials of 3D-printed tissue scaffolds and bones.

China is very advanced in the development of 3D manufacturing technology, and is home to the world’s largest 3D printers, developed by Dalian University of Technology (http://www.dlut.edu.cn/en/). Another Chinese company pioneering this technology is Shaanxi Hengtong Intelligent Machines (http://www.china-rpm.com/english/), which sells various laser-using rapid prototyping machines and 3D machines.

Around the world, bioprinting is currently being pioneered for printing heart valves, ears, artificial bones, joints, vascular tubes, and skin for grafts.

The number of scientific papers mentioning bioprinting tripled between 2008 and 2011 according to Popular Science. But why is this happening? Three things are occurring at once: sophisticated 3D printers are now available, there are significant advances in regenerative medicine, and CAD (computer-aided design) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-aided_design) software continues to become more advanced.

San Diego, California’s Organovo (organovo.com), a company that designs and creates functional human tissues using 3D bioprinting, has big ambitions for the technology.

“Getting to a whole organ-in-a-box that’s plug-and-play and ready to go, I believe that could happen in my lifetime,” its chief technology officer, Sharon Presnell, told Popular Science.

In the field of gene science, China is also investing significant resources to make rapid progress. China is working to make its genetic research industry into one of the country’s pillar industries.

Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) (http://www.genomics.cn/en/index) is the world’s largest genome-mapping institute, with more than 1,000 biological analysis devices working with top-of-the-line genome-sequencing machines. What makes BGI different is scale: it can handle data in vast quantities and industrialize its research, according to China Daily.

The China National Genebank in Shenzhen (http://www.nationalgenebank.org/en/index.html), associated with BGI and its Cognitive Genetics Project, is one of the largest gene banks in the world. It has collected the DNA (http://www.biologycorner.com/bio1/DNA.html) samples of some of the world’s smartest people to sequence their genomes and work out which alleles (http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/a/allele.htm) determine human intelligence.

But what will they do with this information? By doing embryo screening, it will be possible to pick the brightest zygote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygote) and ensure an entire generation’s intelligence is increased by five to 15 IQ (intelligence quotient) points. This could have a significant impact on the country’s economic performance, the researchers believe, and help in the country making more rapid economic and development gains. This line of research is also seen globally as being fraught with ethical dilemmas and is controversial.

But the Chinese researchers believe the country’s economic productivity, business success, international competitiveness and the amount of innovation in the economy could all increase with an IQ boost.

The eggs are fertilized in the lab with the father’s sperm and the embryos are tested until they find the smartest one.

Embryo analysis could take place on a large scale in a few years. But it is not just better brains that are possible with this technique: choices can be made about hair and eye colors, and physical attributes such as body shape.

This level of research is benefiting from vast investments in higher education in China.

And it isn’t just human beings receiving the vast investment in gene research.

To help agriculture and agribusiness, the National Center for Gene Research (NCGR) (ncgr.ac.cn) is mapping and sequencing the rice genome, and genomes of other organisms. Since 2007, it has been using the latest generation sequencing technology to map the rice genome to identify common genetic factors. It has 50 million base pairs of rice genomic DNA sequences in its public database. It is hoped this will lead to more robust rice varieties that can withstand disease and climate fluctuations and help meet the food needs of a growing global population.

Resources

1) Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Wake Forest Innovations was created in 2012 as a new operating division of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. As the Medical Center’s technology commercialization arm, Wake Forest Innovations supports scholarship, investing in the innovative potential of academic and clinical communities and helping translate ideas and discoveries into valuable commercial products and services. Website: http://www.wakehealth.edu/WFIRM/

2) DEKA Research & Development: DEKA Research and Development Corporation is an established company focused on the development of radical new healthcare technologies that span a diverse set of applications. Website: http://www.dekaresearch.com/index.shtml

3) Organovo: Organovo design and create functional human tissues using proprietary three-dimensional bioprinting technology. The goal is to build living human tissues that are proven to function like native tissues. Website: http://www.organovo.com/

Project Cyborg: A web-based platform geared toward nanoscale molecular modeling and simulations for cellular biology. Website: http://www.autodeskresearch.com/projects/cyborg
Make your own bioprinter: DIYBioPrinter: Step by step construction of a bioprinter from an old HP 5150 inkjet printer. Website: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-BioPrinter/

6) Autodesk is working on CAD software for bioprinting. Website: autodesk.co.uk

7) BGI Cognitive Genetics Project: BGI Cognitive Genomics is an interdisciplinary research group at BGI, one of the largest genomics institutes in the world. The focus is human cognition, with emphasis on the use of tools made available by rapid advances in DNA sequencing technology. Website: https://www.cog-genomics.org/

8) Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology Chinese Academy of Sciences: The mission of the institute is to address fundamental questions in genetics and developmental biology and to develop new technologies for the uses in health care and agriculture sciences as well as to meet the nation’s strategic needs in science and technology. Scientists in the institute use both plant and animal models to address fundamental questions in life sciences, such as genetic control of growth and development, gene expression, signal transduction, structural and functional genomics, biotech and molecular breeding, bioinformatics and systems biology. As China owns the biggest agricultural market in the world, researchers in the Institute have also made significant efforts on water saving agriculture and agronomic studies, focusing on the improvement of crop productivity and quality as well as bio-safety. Website: http://english.genetics.cas.cn/au/


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China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.

But China is pioneering the move to mainstream robots in more public spheres. And the country is promising big changes in the coming decade.

Robots, strange as it may seem, can play a key role in development and fighting poverty.

If used intelligently, the rise of robots and robotics – itself a consequence of huge technological advances in information technology, the Internet, nanotechnology,artificial intelligence, and mobile communications – can free workers from boring, difficult and dangerous jobs. This can ramp up the provision of public goods like cleaning services in urban areas, or remove the need to do back-breaking farming work.

Robotics also offers a new field of high-tech employment for countries in the global South who are producing far more educated engineering and science students than they can currently employ. These students can help build the new robot economy.

China is considered to be in the early stages of competing with robot pioneers such as Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. And China still has a low penetration of industrial robots per population. In 2011 estimates placed the number of industrial robots in China at 52,290 (International Federation of Robotics) (ifr.org).

In the years ahead, China confronts a double demographic problem. It has the world’s largest elderly population, who will need care, and it also has a shrinking number of young people available to work as a result of the country’s one-child policy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy).

Robots can help solve these problems.

China started its robotics research in the 1970s and ramped it up from 1985. It has already made significant progress manufacturing domestic robots for cleaning. The Xiamen Lilin Electronics Co., Ltd. (http://cnlilin.en.made-inchina.

com/) makes vacuum cleaners that are small round robots smart enough to return to their recharging stations when low on power. Another firm, Jetta Company (http://www.jetta.com.hk/home.htm), has built and sells the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning and floor-washing robots (http://www.irobot.com/uk/store.aspx?camp=ppc:google:products_roomba:G_790612075_1846279957_iRobot%20roomba:roomba_brand&gclid=CMiezMiG8a4CFc4LtAodYE3MKw).

For the heavy duty stuff, there is Ningbo’s Dukemen Robot, sold with the slogan “man, technology, robot”. The company manufactures arm-like robots for heavy lifting and lifting in dangerous or uncomfortable environments (dukerobot.com/ks/robot-manufacturers/).

A company called Quick specializes in making soldering equipment for manufacturing electronic components and sells robots that can do this with high accuracy and speed (quick-global.com/9-new-soldering-robot-1.html).

Other robotic advances in China include a robot dolphin that swims through the water measuring its quality.

There are also robots in development to do housework and help people who need assistance in the home like the elderly and the disabled. These robots can monitor a person’s physical condition and provide psychological counselling and search for, and deliver, requested items. One example is called UNISROBO, and is based on the Japanese robot PaPeRo robot (http://www.nec.co.jp/products/robot/en/index.html).

Still other robots can perform surgical procedures or even play sport, like Zhejiang University’s ping pong-playing robot (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BtHYHi7trA).

Even more ambitiously, China is developing robots to send to the moon.

The push to introduce robots into the workplace and wider society is receiving considerable attention in China.

The Taiwan-based technology company Foxconn – well-known for assembling products for the American company Apple, maker of the iPad and iPhone -has pledged to deploy a million robots in its Chinese factories in the coming years to improve efficiency.

Some are forecasting that if China starts building robots on the scale it has pledged, then the world’s population of manufacturing robots will grow tenfold in 10 years.

China is also broaching one of the trickiest aspects of robotics – getting robots to interact with humans.

The tricky bit in robotics is getting interaction with human beings right and to avoid the experience being intimidating or frightening. One sector that is already ahead in experimenting with this aspect of robots is the restaurant business. One robot being used in restaurants sits on a tricycle trolley laden with drinks. It cycles from table to table in endless rotation allowing customers to choose drinks when they like.

The first robot restaurant started a trial run in 2010 in Jinan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinan), the capital of Shandong Province. The hot pot restaurant uses six robots to help with the service. The restaurant has also given itself the perfect name for this new approach: Continental Robot Experience Pavilion. Adorned with robot posters, the restaurant is 500 square metres in size and can seat 100 diners.

Diners at the Continental Robot Experience Pavilion are greeted by two ‘female’ “beauty robot receptionists” dressed in uniforms. Inside, the six robot waiters serve the customers. There are two to deliver drinks and two to serve the small tables and two to serve the big tables.

The robot comes to the table and takes the customers’ orders for food dishes and drinks. The robots, designed with sensors to stop them moving when they sense something or someone in front of them, are able to handle 21 tables and deal with the 100 customers at a single sitting.

The robots have proven so effective, the restaurant’s staff can stay focused on administration and providing assistance. The cooking is still done by human beings.

This trial run is designed to test the concept and the novelty of having robots attracting customers, the restaurant’s manager told the People’s Daily Online.

The plan is to increase the number of robots to 40 and also to have robots do cleaning and other tasks.

“They have a better service attitude than humans,” said Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time. “Humans can be temperamental or impatient, but they don’t (the robots) feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night,” Li said to China Daily.

Resources

1) The Robot Report: It boasts compiling more than 1,400 robotics-related links and is about “Tracking the business of robotics”. Website: therobotreport.com

2) The Robot Shop: Bills itself as “The world’s leading source for professional robot technology” and sells online all the parts, kits, toys, tools and equipment to get any enthusiast or small and medium enterprise working with robotics quickly. Website: robotshop.com

3) Robot App Store: Sells ‘apps’ or software applications to expand the capabilities of robots. It also operates as a store for application developers to sell their robot apps to others. Also has information and resources on how to get started making robot apps and making money from making robot apps. Website: robotappstore.com

4) Roboearth: Funded by the European Union, RoboEarth is an online, open source network where robots can communicate with each other and share information and “learn from each other about their behaviour and their environment. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction. Website: roboearth.org

5) Robotland: A blog writing about the “visions, ideas, innovations, awards, trends and reports from leading robotics research and development places in the world”. Website: http://robotland.blogspot.co.uk/

6) China Hi-Tech Fair: Running from 16-21 November 2012, the Fair is a great way to see the latest developments in robotics in China. Website: chtf.com/english/

7) Singularity Hub: A cornucopia of robotic resources and news on “science, technology and the future of mankind”. Website: http://singularityhub.com/

Cited in Studies in Intelligence, Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges, Vol. 59, No.1 (Extracts, March 2015).

Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 59, No.1 (Unclassified articles from March 2015).
Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD in Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015).
Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD in Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015).
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Virtual Supermarket Shopping Takes off in China

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

An ingenious use of technological innovation and savvy trend-spottingis radically transforming the way people do their grocery shopping in China. Busy urban dwellers with time-poor lifestyles can now do their grocery shopping as they pass through Shanghai’s subway system and have their weekly shopping delivered to their home.

The country has experienced breakneck economic growth in the past 15 years, heading towards becoming the world’s largest economy. Much of this growth and new wealth has come from the transformation of China into the world’s manufacturing and exporting hub. But this also leaves an urban population of very busy people who need time-saving solutions to improve their quality of life.

China’s premier Wen Jiabao has now pledged to aid the world economy during the current economic crisis by boosting domestic Chinese consumption. And this new focus on consumption will open up opportunities for entrepreneurs.

“I believeChina’s economy can achieve longer-term, better-quality growth. This will be our new contribution to strong, sustainable global growth,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

And a big part of the boost in domestic consumption will come from modern retailers and supermarkets. Supermarkets were almost non-existent in China before the 1990s. The country sold food in a mix of small shops, open-air markets and through wholesale networks. It was a complex system overlaid with government bodies, marketing boards, brokers, wholesalers, distributors and government-licensed and government-run shops and vendors.

But this has radically changed as the country has moved to a modern retail system. Chinese cities now boast modern supermarkets, convenience stores, hypermarkets and warehouse clubs. There was just one modern supermarket in the country in 1990; by 2003, there were 60,000 (Chinese Chain Store and Franchise Association).

The supermarket model offers many benefits to anyone looking to sell products in the Chinese marketplace. Supermarkets are very competitive with each other and are always looking for new angles and new products to get the edge and win over new consumers. If they offer new tastes and variety, the chances are high they will attract more customers.

Supermarkets tend to offer a greater variety of food products than traditional markets. They are also cleaner, the quality control is better and more standardised, there is no need to haggle over prices and measurements and units for products are clearly labelled and controlled.

But supermarkets can also be criticized for monopolizing distribution networks, hurting small farmers by driving down prices and destroying independent retailers unable to compete with the economies of scale supermarkets can bring to bear.

In Shanghai- a city that has long been a retail pioneer in China- the Yihaodian online grocery company (http://www.yihaodian.com/product/index.do?merchant=1) is radically altering how people buy food by using “virtual supermarkets” in subway stations.

It is a convergence of several technological innovations to make something even better.

Shoppers download an app – or application – on to their mobile phones. This allows them to interact with large LED screens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_display) in subway stations which display images of products – from soap to noodle soup to nuts– just like in a catalogue. The shopper scrolls through the products and finds what they want to buy. Beside the images are barcodes. The shopper scans the product barcode with the phone and Yihaodian then delivers the products straight to their home within hours.

It is a very convenient service for busy workers trying to juggle the many demands of daily life.

The Yihaodian system is based on a similar technology pioneered inSouth Korea.

Yihaodian is riding a wave of growth for the company because of its innovative approach. It has seen sales rise by 28 percent each month and it hopes to make Euro 325 million (US $443 million) in 2011, four times its 2010 revenues. Proof of the value of investing in innovation.

Yihaodian is also showing how clever it is to offer a new way of doing things. It is pioneering a new business model while also recognising the reality of people’s busy lives in modern urban environments. Lily Yu, director of the company’s wireless application department, says it is about something bigger than just profits. “Changing people’s lifestyles is what we are striving for,” she told Monocle magazine.

Yu, founder of the Wireless Application Department at Yihaodian, joined the company in 2010 and leads the team to develop and introduce this technology and new way of buying products.

The only question remaining is this: how long before all retail will follow Yu’s lead?

Resources

1) Mobile Active: MobileActive.org connects people, organizations, and resources using mobile technology for social change. Website: http://mobileactive.org

2) How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business: A story on how to use these scannable codes. Website: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-qr-codes-can-grow-your-business/

3) Southern Innovator magazine: New global magazine’s first issue tackles the boom in mobile phone and information technologies across the global South. Website: www.scribd.com/doc/57980406/Southern-Innovator-Issue-1

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