By Huang Xin
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released Special Initiative for Innovation and Development of Intelligent Hardware Industry (2016-2018) (the Initiative for short below) days ago. According to the Initiative, China's smart hardware products and services are expected to see a market of about RMB 500 billion yuan by 2018 and even trillions of yuan by 2020.
According to Diao Shijing, head of Electronic Information Department, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Initiative focuses on addressing key technical problems, short supply of high-end products, unsound innovation support system, defective production and application interaction, ecological fragmentation in an effort to motivate China's intelligent hardware industry to develop toward a high-end, innovation, independent, ecological and service-oriented direction.
"This is the first time that the concept of intelligent hardware is proposed in policy documents", said Xu Zhiyuan, deputy director of Academy of Industry and Information Technology Integration, CAICT. According to the Initiative, "intelligent hardware" refers to emerging Internet terminal products for information acquisition, processing and connection designed with intelligence, interaction and big data service functions.
"Intelligent hardware has arisen to be the main battlefield for promoting "Internet+" innovation and entrepreneurship. Promoting innovation development of intelligent hardware industry will develop the industry foundation support to construct and intensify "Internet+" strategy", said Diao Shijing.
"China's intelligent hardware industry has kept in tandem with the global intelligent hardware industry; product and service innovation has kept vigorous; part of product market has increased faster than that of the world and world-leading enterprises have shown in such fields as intelligent wearing devices and UAVs", said Li Ting, director of Integrated Circuit and Software Research Department of Academy of Industry and Information Technology Integration, CAICT.
At present, China's intelligent hardware industry has seen the development of large-scale product fields, such as intelligent wearing devices, VR devices, intelligent service robots and intelligent vehicle-mounted devices, with the millions of sales volume. The global shipments of intelligent wearing devices in 2015 are 78.1 million; the VR industry achieved USD 1.54 billion of revenue; the market scale of intelligent service robot surpassed USD 8 billion, while that of the intelligent vehicle-mounted devices also fulfilled rapid increase. China's intelligent hardware products and services are expected to see a market of about RMB 500 billion yuan by 2018 and even trillions of yuan by 2020.
"The intelligent hardware industry is confronted with such common problems as technological innovation, product application and ecologicalization." Diao Shijing pointed out that at present, China's intelligent hardware is mainly concentrated in wearing devices, health, home furnishing and transportation, etc. In spite of large product quantity and varieties, homogenization is relatively prominent and most products are designed with simple functions. Many products are involved in the phenomenon that "concept is greater than utility", leading to failure to gain stronger application stickiness from users.
According to statistics, the user turnover rate of intelligent bracelets is as high as 30 percent after 3 months of application. First, this is caused by the short plank of key components and software technology at the bottom layer, resulting in large bottleneck and dependency of product innovation. Second, the efforts in developing product data and interaction value are still not enough and many products only support data presentation and remote control with lower intelligence level.
Moreover, dedicated applications targeted at development of intelligent hardware are relatively limited and many applications are developed only by simply copying the existing modes of smart phones. Though large Internet enterprises have intensified support for intelligent hardware at present, China's overall intelligent hardware industry has been unprosperous yet, innovation has lingered on the free development state and systematic support for industry chain has also lagged behind.
"The focus of the Initiative is rather distinctive and it has set up the key tasks aimed at high-end product provision, core technology innovation and key application demonstration in an attempt to lead the improvement of application capability by product innovation and technology research and development of intelligent hardware”, said Diao Shijing.
Chen Lei, engineer of Integrated Circuit and Software Research Department of Academy of Industry and Information Technology Integration, CAICT, said that the Initiative mainly focuses on complete machine design and production and resolution of high-end and service orientation of key products in an effort to enrich the variety and profitability of consumer intelligent hardware and improve the provision capacity of intelligent hardware products meeting industry standards from the perspective of stressing product branding and supply capacity of high-end products. In terms of the supporting mode, this task will be led by industry standard and supported by public services and render support by coordinating pilot application of excellent solutions.
"In addition to the fundamental industry objectives of scale development, technical breakthrough, benefit improvement and guiding by leading enterprises, the Initiative puts special emphasis on construction of three support platforms of standard development, product and application detection and industry supply capacity, manifesting the state's thinking on promoting innovation and development of intelligent hardware industry by the means of ecological organization," said Xu Zhiyuan.