The Overseas Experiential Learning (OEL302) organised by Centre for Experiential Learning (CEL) and School of Science and Technology (SST) has brought 28 undergraduate students and 8 staffs to numerous reputed technology-related companies namely, Alibaba, PuQi Tech, HIKVision, Honeywell, NIO, MeiTuan DianPing, Tencent and SenseTime in Hangzhou & Shanghai this July. Our delegates get to witness for themselves China’s accelerated rise in technological progresses and innovations. China has grown from being just a world factory, accountable for millions of products (ranging from garment to advanced electronics chips) for various industries into a global industrial giant with R&D capabilities. The high number of patent filings China alone accounted for is a testament to her technological competencies and potential.

Our OEL focuses on emerging technology, in particular A.I. and electric autonomous vehicles, the flourishing e-commerce landscape fuelled by cloud and big data and the vibrant start-up scene in China.

E-Commerce Platforms

Alibaba

The delegation was greeted by the awe-inspiring Alibaba’s Xixi campus at Hangzhou in the morning of 8 July. A presentation on Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence was conducted by Mr Choong Hon Keat, Business Development Lead (Singapore). The students were intrigued by the milestones achieved by the Alibaba Group within a short span of 20 years and also they were equally impressed by Alibaba’s technology backbone that supported a suite of services. From the engaging talk by Mr Choong, the students learnt about how Alibaba Cloud compares with other cloud platforms and how Alibaba presents a competitive edge over its competitors . Students also made a visit to Alibaba’s brick-and-mortar Hema supermarket to obtain first-hand experience for a group-based assignment which requires students to conduct experiential Study of Alibaba Hema Business Model. Hema blends online and offline (O2O) shopping by using various cutting-edge technologies. This innovative business model is reinventing traditional supermarkets and e-commerce businesses. The use of conveyor belts, robots and apps were shown in the Hema store. Ms Irish Ng, student from the Translation and Interpretation Programme expresses, “I’m glad to have this rare learning opportunity to visit Alibaba in this trip. Not only did we understand its history and working culture of the company, we also learn about how they efficiently use the big data they collected to improve and enhance their ecommerce businesses.”

Beautiful Xixi campus
Beautiful Xixi campus
Herma Supermarket
Herma Supermarket
outside_xixi_campus
Outside Alibaba's Xixi Campus in Hangzhou

Meituan Dianping

Meituan Dianping in Shanghai, one of the world’s largest e-commerce platform for services has a clear mission “To help people eat better, live better”. It started as a restaurant reviews and local deals and evolves to a food ordering and delivery service. It’s online platform is now leveraged to cross-sell and it supports not just food ordering and delivery but multiple categories of e-commerce services namely, hotel booking, movie theatres, and others across 2800 cities across China. It has over 290 million monthly active users and 600 million registered users in 2018. Mr Dylan Huang, Senior Vice President of Shanghai of Shanghai Meituan Dianping, gave an introduction about Meituan Dianping’s businesses, current valuation at 50 billion RMB and revenue stream. Mr Huang also discussed about their reliance on a strong team of 1000 engineers and researchers to build the online platform. Smaller companies simply do not have the capacity to do so. At their exhibition centre, the visualization screen presented the live information of the ranking of various lifestyle services, namely, food, entertainment, shop and mall.

Ms Valerie Lei, student from Translation and Interpretation Programme, commented, “It is indeed an eye-opening experience for us. The Chinese food delivery giant, Meituan DianPing’s revenues, although rely heavily on food, they continue to expand and innovate their services so that the app became an integral part of people’s life as the largest local life service platform.”

Finding the best route to dispatch the meal order
Finding the best route to dispatch the meal order
outside_xixi_campus
Mr Dylan Huang, Senior VP of MeiTuan DianPing giving an insightful talk

A.I.

HIKVision

HIKVision is one of the leading computer vision companies in Hangzhou that was founded in 2001 and listed on the Shenzhen exchange since 2010. HIKVision is the world leading supplier of video surveillance products. HIKVision has more than 34,000 employees, of which more than 16,000 of them are R&D engineers. HIKVision advances the core technologies of audio and video encoding, video image processing, and related data storage, as well as emerging technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and deep learning. The experience centre showcases the recent developments in UAV, robotics, smart home and smart city. HIKVision is instrumental in providing civilian and global monitoring. The cameras are capable of operating in very dim lighting condition and can use AI to predict colours.

At HIKVision experiential centre, students were impressed with Hikvision’s surveillance systems that were used in a number of situations not limiting to disaster management, traffic control, facial recognition and car parking management. HIKVISION also helps bank to identify VIP customers using facial recognition and this will enhance customers’ satisfaction since more personalized services can be provided. The drone interception device presented is beneficial to authorities because it can aid to stop unauthorized flying of drones in restricted areas.

Drone Interceptor
Drone Interceptor
Facial Profiling
Facial Profiling
HIKVision Experiential Centre
HIKVision Experiential Centre

SenseTime

SenseTime is a world leading A.I. company focusing on computer vision and deep learning that is established in 2014 by Prof Tang Xiao’ou at Chinese University of HK (CUHK). SenseTime’s AI technologies are embedded in the following applications: facial recognition, image recognition, object recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, automonous driving and remote sensing. In Sep 2018, SenseTime becomes the National Open Innovation Platform for Next-Generation Artificial Intelligence on Intelligent Vision. SenseTime is the 5th national AI platform in China, after Alibaba Cloud, Baidu, Tencent & iFLYTEK. In 2018, SenseTime has a valuation of over $4.5 billion with Alibaba becoming the largest-single investor of SenseTime. Its systems are used by the Chinese government for national surveillance. The data captured by China’s 170 million CCTV cameras and smart glasses worn by police officers are being processed by SenseTime. Being a strong proponent in education, SenseTime has formulated an AI textbook for secondary students in China and it is first released to 40 schools.

SUSS students were fascinated with a suite of amazing applications being displayed at the SenseTime experiential centre in Shanghai. Our students had fun trying out the beauty contest tool which took a picture of you and compared with their database of pictures and ranked you according to your looks. In the experiential centre, SenseTime also showed that they were doing machine learning on big dataset of X-ray and this had helped to detect illness and provided an acceptable level of diagnosis of specific illness. Our students from the business programmes were pleasantly delighted and inspired by this advanced medical imaging technology.

Facial Profiling
Beauty Contest
Facial Profiling
Beauty Enhancement Tool

Tencent

Our delegates were delighted to visit Tencent YouTu, one of China’s best computer vision research laboratories. Tencent YouTu Lab belongs to the Tencent Social-Network-Group (SNG), located in Shanghai and Hefei. The lab conducts research on image processing, pattern recognition, machine learning, data mining and others. Ms Qi Wen, representative of Tencent YouTub Lab gave a presentation on YouTu Lab’s contribution to the entire Tencent’s ecosystem. Tencent has two principal business operations: Social Communications platforms which include WeChat and QQ, and Digital Content which includes games, videos, animations and comics.

Our students were dazzled by Tencent’s facial recognition technology and the positive social impact it plays in the society. Ms Lee Pei Xuan, business student, commented, “The visit to Tencent YouTu labs was an eye-opening experience of new technologies that were developed for meaningful social activities to help others. The development and application of the cross-age facial recognition used to find missing children lost for 10+ years was particularly touching as multiple children who were kidnapped at a very young age were returned to their families many years later.”

Tencent Youtu
Tencent Youtu
Tencent Youtu Exhibition Area
Tencent Youtu Exhibition Area

Electric Autonomous Vehicles

NIO

NIO is a Chinese automobile manufacturer that specializes in designing and developing electric autonomous vehicles. The company was founded in 2014 by William Li Bin, and headquartered in Shanghai. NIO is known as Tesla challenger in China and it has received significant attention in the capital market. Numerous companies have invested in NIO and they are Tencent, Baidu Sequoia, Lenovo, TPG and Temasek. It was listed on NYSE as a US$1.8 billion IPO in August 2018. The company has developed its own competitive advantage such as customer-centric after sales service model and battery swap system. The battery can be changed in 3 minutes.

Some students were given an opportunity to experience an exhilarating ride on the ES8 (Electric SUV) and were able to witness first-hand the self-driving feature of this vehicle. They were excited and impressed with the smart digital assistant called “NOMI” that was sitting on the dashboard and would move to face you if you asked it to play a song or answer your question. NOMI can take a selfie of all the occupants in the car upon a voice-activated command. The SOS button incorporated within the car will link the occupants directly to a NIO staff if it is activated and the staff can decide if the situation warrants a call to the police. The queen seat in the front of the car has a massage function and has the capability to move and be connected to the back passenger seat.

A talk on NIO's business philosophy and technology
A talk on NIO's business philosophy and technology
NIO's EP9
NIO's EP9

Startup Scene in China

Dream Town & PuQi Tech

Dream Town is a Hangzhou Startup Incubator developed by the province and city government and it was officially launched in September 2014. It covers an area of 3 sq km in Hangzhou. It consists of 4 parts: Internet Village, Entrepreneurship Fair, Angel Village and Entrepreneurship Street. Dream Town is located in an ancient town which is known for its long history and renowned for granary culture and traditional Chinese culture.

Puqi Tech is an international technological company located at the Dream Town. Its core business areas include international technology transfer, startup incubation, and venture capital investment. The company strategically focuses on AI, UAV and robotics, healthcare, new material, and new energy technologies. The company has established collaborative relationships with more than 100 foreign universities to commercialize academic research outcomes. At Puqi Tech, the Mr Zhang Feng, founder of PuQi, personally conducted a Q&A session with us. Students learnt about technology transfer and how PuQi actively seeks to partner universities abroad to bring technology into China. The Dream Village visit was a serious eyeopener into the startup incubation movement in China. PuQi revealed that they had not only raised significant private capital, but also received large funding from the government. The fact that the government has its hand in technology startups, shows that consumer technology has become vital to societal progress and the government's authority.

Dream Town
Dream Town
Device that checks your pores and recommends a suitable cosmetic for you
Device that checks your pores and recommends a suitable cosmetic for you
Mr Zhang Feng, founder of Puqi Tech, gave an engaging talk on the startup scene in China and Puqi Tech's business
Mr Zhang Feng, founder of Puqi Tech, gave an engaging talk on the startup scene in China and Puqi Tech's business

American MNC in China

Honeywell

Honeywell, one of earliest U.S. MNCs to enter China. Honeywell International Inc. is an American multinational company that currently ranks 77th on the Fortune 500 list. Honeywell China consists of five Strategic Business Groups (SBG): Honeywell Aerospace, Home and Building Technologies, Safety and Productivity Solutions, Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies, and Honeywell Connected Enterprise.

The Honeywell Technology Experience centre is located at Pudong New Area in Shanghai. The centre is equipped with interactive multimedia displays to showcase the applications of Honeywell’s technology, products and services with specific applications in China. The centre is organised into a few different areas focusing on themes: Aerospace, Buildings and Cities, Industries, Smart Homes, Safety and Protective Equipment and Corporate Social Responsibilities. An interactive projection-mapped city panel to demonstrate the following: Integrated fire and security solution, surveillance system and smart building solutions.

Students visited the research labs in Honeywell. They were amazed with the 3D printing lab where metal can be printed and also the cost efficiency of doing 3D printing. In the material lab, students also saw pricey equipment being used to study and analyse various material applications. One of the interesting technologies introduced for the aerospace industry is the Smartview Synthetic Vision system. Even with low visibility outside, pilots can count on the Honeywell SmartView synthetic vision system to provide them with the most advanced view of terrain, obstacles and runways along their intended route. This aims to heighten pilot situational awareness and prevent aviation accidents. Besides the aerospace industry, Honeywell also offers innovative solutions to other industries, namely, oil refinery, personal protective equipment, buildings and homes. In the Fall Lab at Honeywell, the fall protection equipment are tested in the facility. Besides actively reducing carbon footprints, Honeywell continually seeks to improve products which include firefighter uniforms which are made of better material to better resist heat.

Honeywell's aerospace business
Honeywell's aerospace business
Honeywell's experience centre
Honeywell's experience centre
Honeywell's safety equipment and apparels
Honeywell's safety equipment and apparels
Honeywell's simulator cockpit
Honeywell's simulator cockpit

As we basked in the technology delights of these two lovely cities, we could agree that this OEL trip had provided a truly enriching experience for all of us. And right here, we would like to say a big thank you to the companies in China who had generously hosted our visits and we wished them well.