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AI, 5G breathing new life into appliances

By FAN FEIFEI| China Daily| Updated: August 9, 2022 L M S

Chefs, party hosts can all look forward to some high-tech culinary assistance

Refrigerators that can monitor the freshness of foods, help users order ingredients and recommend recipes via analyzing user habits and preferences have become a reality in people's daily lives.

Some people can now easily control almost every home appliance through voice commands, facial recognition and remote use of mobile devices. Thanks to superfast 5G wireless technology, which has the advantages of high speed, large capacity and low latency, China's intelligent home appliance industry is poised to usher in new development opportunities, industry experts said.

Shipments of smart home equipment in China reached 230 million units in 2021, and the figure is expected to reach 540 million units in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 21.4 percent over the next five years, said a report released by global market research firm International Data Corp.

Traditional home appliance manufacturers are accelerating steps to launch smart home products like air conditioners, televisions, refrigerators and washing machines by applying state-of-the-art 5G, artificial intelligence and the internet of things technologies. IoT refers to a network of objects with software or sensors that allow data exchanges.

Haier Smart Home, a subsidiary of China's largest home appliance manufacturer, Haier Group, has built a 5G-powered IoT ecosystem by providing customized solutions that tie together multiple home appliance products.

The IoT ecosystem is powered by Haier's industrial internet platform COSMOPlat, a new type of manufacturing automation that combines advanced machines, internet-connected sensors and big data analysis to boost productivity and reduce industrial production costs.

Clients or users could be involved in the process of product design, research and development, production, manufacturing, sales and marketing.

For instance, Haier's "internet of clothing" includes not only machines that wash but those that can also oversee everything to do with clothing, including styles, shopping, storage and other functions.

"In the era of 5G and IoT, what users need are not homogeneous products, but customized solutions to meet personalized lives. We are willing to introduce tailor-made services for more families," said Li Huagang, president of Haier Smart Home.


People check out a 5G intelligent robot patroller at a commercial area in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, in October. [Photo by ZOU XUNYONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Haier, China Mobile-the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers-and tech giant Huawei jointly launched the world's first AI plus 5G interconnected factory in 2019. The three parties have deepened their cooperation to upgrade the industrial internet ecosystem and effectively support smart manufacturing.

"5G and AIoT, or artificial intelligence of things, will play a key role in bolstering the connection of different smart home devices in various application scenarios and facilitating the interaction process between human beings and machines," said Pan Xuefei, a senior analyst at market research firm IDC.

AIoT is the combination of AI technologies with IoT infrastructure to improve human-machine interactions and enhance data management and analytics.

Pan added that other cutting-edge technologies, such as voice interaction and facial recognition, have been gradually applied in smart speakers, security surveillance equipment and other smart home devices to enhance user experience and enrich the functions of related products.

Other appliance makers such as Skyworth Group, TCL Technology Group and Sichuan Changhong Electric Holding Group have ramped up efforts to excel in the 5G-powered 8K ultrahigh definition television segment.

"5G offers technological support for the adoption of 8K, while 8K is one of the best application scenarios for superfast wireless technology," said Wu Wei, chief engineer at Skyworth Group, adding that 5G has the advantages of high speed, large capacity and minimal delay, which create great opportunities for the adoption of 8K UHD TV.

With the commercial application of 5G and the application of ultrahigh definition display technologies, China's ultrahigh definition terminal industry is expected to usher in a golden period of development, said Li Dongsheng, founder and chairman of Chinese consumer electronics giant TCL.

Superfast 5G technologies can solve content transmission, compression and decoding problems for 8K displays, and provide solutions for various fields covering entertainment, medical imaging, broadcasting, security monitoring and remote education, said Ai Weiqi, research manager of consumer electronics at Beijing-based market consultancy All View Cloud.

"The smart home industry is now developing by leaps and bounds, thanks to advances in 5G, IoT, big data and other technologies," said Zhang Yanbin, an independent researcher in the home appliances sector.

Zhao Meimei, assistant president of All View Cloud, said some challenges and difficulties have cropped up in the development of smart home devices. "Smart home products made by different manufacturers usually can't be connected, and we still rely on foreign suppliers for high-end smart chips. It will still take several years to see the large-scale application of smart home devices," Zhao added.