For many people, the hardest thing about winter is getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning. However, smart technology is helping to make life a little easier.
Xiaoai, a smart voice recognition mini robot, allows users to take control of their lives without having to get up.
From the comfort of their beds, users can tell the device to turn on the lights and play some music. Using their smartphones, they can even instruct a smart cooker in the kitchen to start making breakfast.
Thanks to these smart home products, life is becoming easier, and the internet of things has been a major driver of these achievements.
Only a few years ago, IoT was just a concept. Since the beginning of this year, however, it has become a mainstream technology that is being commercialized.
IoT has not only found its way into smart homes. It is also being applied in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare.
For example, at an intelligent warehouse of menswear major HLA, employees no longer need to search for required garments in a mountain of clothes. The 5G-enabled IoT dispatches smart robots to identify and pick up the required e-tagged garments.
Such innovative applications are also simplifying work at vineyards. Farmers no longer need to pick grapes. Instead, using a smartphone, they can operate remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to do this for them.
The industrial internet, in particular, has witnessed rapid development in the past few years, and assembly and production lines have started to operate using IoT, greatly improving production efficiency.
"Accelerated steps on the industrial internet are of significance to China's advanced manufacturing amid fierce competition from abroad," said Yang Chunli, a researcher at the China Center for Information Industry Development, a Beijing-based think tank.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology estimated that there are more than 50 industrial internet platforms with regional or sector-wide influence in the country. Also, an increasing number of applications are being commercialized with each platform owning 1,500 apps on average.
"China is opening a new window on the development of large-scale IoT and also creating an opportune period for related parties to map out and gain a lead in the field," said Wang Zhijun, vice-minister of industry and information technology.
Charlie Dai, a principal analyst at Forrester, a business strategy and economic consultancy, said favorable government policies and increasingly fierce market competition are driving the evolution of IoT in the country.
"The Chinese government has unveiled a string of strategic IoT initiatives for the nation's digital transformation. IoT was also included in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), which will steer China's economic and social development between 2016 and 2020," Dai said.
Such efforts will put China in the driver's seat with respect to the adoption and use of IoT technology, he said. By 2022, China is expected to spend $300 billion annually on IoT and surpass the United States as the world's largest IoT market, said a report from market consultancy IDC.
A report from the China Economic Information Service said the country's IoT industry reached a market value of 1.2 trillion yuan ($168 billion) last year. And income from services offered by the IoT industry was up 72.9 percent year-on-year.
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