Published: 12:12, January 19, 2024 | Updated: 12:12, January 19, 2024
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Tech firms making strides in consumer electronics
By Fan Feifei

Over 1,100 Chinese enterprises unveil advanced technologies, new products at expo

Attendees walk past a display of televisions at the TCL booth during the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show, which was held from Jan 9 to Jan 12, 2024 in Las Vegas, the United States. (PHOTO / REUTERS)

When TCL participated in the Consumer Electronics Show for the first time in 1991, its booth encompassed just 9 square meters, Li Dongsheng, founder and chairman of the Chinese consumer electronics maker, recalled.

This year, though, its booth covered an area of nearly 1,700 sq m, the largest exhibition space among all Chinese enterprises taking part in the CES 2024, the world's largest consumer technology show that was held from Jan 9 to Jan 12 in Las Vegas, the United States.

"Just like our TV, it is becoming bigger and bigger. In fact, the products we show at CES have expanded from consumer electronics to different smart devices and display technologies," Li said at a product launch during this year's CES.

Currently, the company offers smart devices, displays and new energy products in over 160 countries and regions.

The remarkable change in TCL's presence at the CES over the past decades provides a glimpse into Chinese technology enterprises' increasingly important role in bolstering the development of the global consumer electronics sector and spearheading technological progress worldwide.

Over 1,100 Chinese enterprises, more than double the number of exhibitors last year, unveiled an array of cutting-edge technologies and new tech products, including new-generation semiconductor displays, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and augmented reality, at the show.

The annual show drew more than 130,000 attendees and over 4,000 exhibitors from over 150 countries and regions, including over 1,200 startups.

Industry experts said the resilient performance of Chinese tech companies at the CES 2024 demonstrates China's latest breakthroughs in world-leading technologies and its growing capacity for independent innovation in tech frontiers.

Highlighting that Chinese tech companies are playing a vital role in promoting technological innovation and accelerating efforts to expand their overseas footprint, they said the rapid integration of artificial intelligence with a wide range of hardware devices is fueling the evolution of the global consumer electronics industry.

China's leading TV brands and display panel makers showcased their latest innovations at the show.

TCL demonstrated over 120 pieces of intelligent terminal devices, such as the world's largest quantum dot mini LED TV with a 115-inch screen, smartphones, AI-powered tablets, AR goggles, vehicle-mounted displays and a smart cockpit.

Sun Li, chief technology officer of TCL Industries, said the company has always attached great importance to the exploration of state-of-the-art technologies and has established a research and development center in Silicon Valley in the United States.

"The R&D center will help us keep abreast of the latest technological trends, obtain new technical information, better integrate the company's products with advanced technologies, as well as deepen cooperation and exchanges with local high-tech companies in the US," Sun said.

Eyeing the fast-growing generative AI wave triggered by the ChatGPT chatbot, Sun said the company is ramping up efforts to integrate AI large language models into its various terminal devices, hoping to provide better voice interaction experiences and personalized content recommendation services.

It is also boosting production capacity at its Mexican factories, given that building global competitiveness has always been important for TCL.

In the first three quarters of last year, shipments of TCL's smart TVs in North America rose 11.4 percent year-on-year, driven by increased demand for large-sized TV models.

BOE Technology Group, a major Chinese display panel manufacturer, rolled out a slew of new products, such as a flexible organic light-emitting diode, or OLED display, a transparent display panel, a 4K mini LED curved display and a 45-inch 8K borderless cockpit screen equipped in automaker Geely's new electric vehicle, Galaxy E8.

BOE will step up investments in technological innovation, especially in fundamental and cutting-edge technologies, and collaborate with global tech heavyweights, including Samsung, LG, HP and Qualcomm as well as carmakers, the company said.

Hisense Group, a leading Chinese home appliances manufacturer, unveiled its latest ultra light-emitting diode or ULED TV and innovative laser display technology at the CES.

David Gold, vice-president of Hisense International and general manager of Hisense Americas, said the company is integrating display technology into homes, and providing consumers with high-quality home entertainment. He said its display technology is widely applied in the sports, education and medical fields, and continuously pushing technological boundaries.

Visitors check out Hisense Group's latest ultra light-emitting diode, or ULED, TV at the 2024 CES in Las Vegas on Jan 11, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

AI push

AI-powered terminal devices have attracted attention this year.

Lenovo Group Ltd, the world's largest personal computer maker, unveiled a full lineup of more than 40 new devices and solutions powered by AI at the CES, furthering the company's vision of AI for all.

The company said it believes this year will mark the advent of AI-based PCs.

According to a report released by market research company GfK, with the meteoric rise of generative AI technology, it is clear that the application scenarios of AI are expanding from personal computers to more intelligent hardware, including smartphones, smart speakers and smart home devices.

In addition, AI-enabled consumer electronics devices, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, are expected to experience explosive growth and become a key driving force for the global consumer electronics industry, it noted.

Zhu Keli, founding director of the China Institute of New Economy, said, "By participating in the world's premier tech show that involves topnotch consumer electronics companies and innovative forces, Chinese tech companies can directly present their innovative products, technologies and solutions to a global audience, and boost brand awareness and influence in the international market."

It will also let more overseas consumers learn about their technological prowess and innovation capabilities in emerging technologies, Zhu added.

Chinese robotic companies gained a strong foothold at the tech show and displayed their latest products ranging from service robots to robots that accompany children and yard cleaners.

Dreame Technology presented its multiple innovative robotic products such as robotic vacuum cleaners and mowers.

Chris Lin, general manager of Dreame Technology North America, said, "Our series of new robot vacuum cleaners and other home products will give more leisure time to customers by providing greater convenience, performance and quality."

Robotics technology company Segway-Ninebot showcased its leading portfolio of innovative technologies across multiple categories, including an autonomous robotics development platform, a range of robots designed for specific tasks such as food delivery robots used in restaurants and hotel service robots, as well as AI-powered smart lawn mowers.

The updated lawn mower models feature a real-time kinematic system to improve accuracy and stability in positioning, and provide enhanced obstacle avoidance capabilities that can tackle a variety of more than 20 obstacles, including trees, curbs, running children, and small animals, the company said.

Hong Yong, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation's e-commerce research institute, said Chinese tech companies are at the forefront of technological innovation, and have made remarkable breakthroughs in cutting-edge technologies such as vehicle-mounted displays, AR, and smart home devices.

This, Hong said, will help boost their competitiveness on the global stage and drive the transformation from "Made in China" to "Created in China".

These companies are actively promoting the application of AI in consumer electronics, intelligent devices and electric vehicles, Hong said.

They should further expand their global foothold, strengthen international cooperation and share their technical advantages with the world by participating in important industrial exhibitions with global influence, he added.

China's innovations in AR, extended reality (XR), autonomous driving, and e-bike sectors have also grabbed global attention.

For instance, Chinese AR company Xreal displayed its latest AR-powered devices, such as AR glasses, by partnering with companies such as Qualcomm and BMW.

XR technology company Nolo showed up with its new virtual reality all-in-one machine, and an upgraded version of its wearable ring that provides XR interactive experience.

Xpeng Aeroht, a flying car unit of Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Motors, showcased its innovative "Land Aircraft Carrier" modular flying car.

It said the flying car will be available for preorders in the fourth quarter of 2024, with delivery to individual users commencing in the fourth quarter of 2025.

The vehicle boasts a two-part design, seamlessly switching between terrestrial and aerial modes. As the company's second breakthrough vehicle, its electric vertical takeoff and landing flying car made its international debut at the CES.

In addition, self-driving startup WeRide launched its autonomous minibus, offering an on-site Level 4 autonomous driving experience.

Aima, one of China's biggest e-bike makers, made its CES debut this year and showcased its diverse range of products, including brand-new electric bikes.

Chinese tech companies have shown the potential to lead the industry, not only in mature categories such as display technology and smartphones, but also in emerging fields such as autonomous driving, AR and VR, said Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University's International Business School.