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New technologies boost non-contact services amid COVID-19 epidemic

(Xinhua)    10:28, April 27, 2020

BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhua) -- As China is carefully restoring production to boost an economy hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, the country is planning to further promote the wave of innovative business models that surge in the country's fight against the virus.

The International Data Corporation forecasted that the epidemic will bring opportunities for online classrooms and education, remote offices and online activities, 5G industry applications, unmanned commerce and services and fresh food e-commerce in relation to the accelerating rise of contactless businesses and services.

AI ON FRONTLINE AND IN LIFE

Speak to the elevator and it will take you to the floor you want. A voice-controlled elevator system has been put into use in a hospital in Beijing to reduce the risk of cross-infection.

Developed by SoundAI, a technological company in Beijing, the voice-controlled elevator system was installed in the Haidian Hospital. It uses artificial intelligence technologies such as voice recognition and interaction design, allowing passengers to control the elevator without pressing the button.

Another AI system developed by China's tech giant Alibaba can identify passersby with a fever or without masks in markets, stations and other busy pedestrian areas.

The system is based on integrated technologies including thermal imaging for non-contact remote fever detection, with a margin of error within 0.3 degrees Celsius.

Once a passenger is suspected of having a fever, the system will automatically alert staff members and quickly locate the passenger, according to Yun Tao, an algorithm engineer of Alibaba.

Besides Alibaba, many other technology firms including Megvii and Baidu have also developed and put into use their AI fever screening systems.

The surging demand for non-contact products and services during the epidemic provided scenes of application and interaction for AI, thus accelerating the development of the AI industry, said Kong Bo, vice president of Orbbec, a company specialized in 3D sensing technology.

5G TREND

The country has also extended the use of 5G technology. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has urged telecom companies to optimize construction plans of the 5G network and fully utilize its role in stabilizing investments and spurring development of the related industrial chain.

A cloud platform that combined 5G and virtual reality has been built to offer a panoramic virtual shopping experience for consumers staying indoors. It will be applied in nearly 100 commercial enterprises across the country, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Based on 5G technology and the Internet of things, a kind of intelligent door magnetic system, which has been applied in the provinces of Jiangsu and Guangdong, is able to monitor the state of the gate of a family who needs to be isolated for quarantine and promptly report back to community workers.

Using a 5G-powered robot, doctors at a hospital in eastern China's Zhejiang Province conducted an ultrasound scan for a patient 700 km away in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, once the center of the epidemic.

The 5G smart medical innovation laboratory jointly established by Zhejiang Provincial People's Hospital, telecommunication giant China Telecom and tech giant Huawei, has provided technical support for the case.

A few minutes of cardiopulmonary ultrasound examination will produce up to 2GB of ultrasonic image data, which can be transmitted through the 5G network at a high speed and low latency.

The 5G cloud intelligent robots developed by another telecommunication giant China Mobile and robot maker CloudMinds have been working in Hubei Province and other places, providing contactless medical services such as remote care, body temperature tests, spraying disinfectants, cleaning and drug delivery.

Apart from 5G robots, leading telecom operators have also come up with smart devices such as 5G thermal imagers and 5G health monitors to help people keep a safe social distance in the epidemic.

LIFE ONLINE

While people were confined to their homes due to the epidemic, innovative business models have helped people live their lives in a contactless fashion.

Many businesses and companies in China have scrambled to resume work on the cloud. Employers, as well as employees, for the first time, have to get familiar with telecommuting tools such as video conferences and online office kits.

Alibaba's communication app DingTalk said it has served more than 10 million enterprises and over 200 million people. To meet the huge demand in peak hours, DingTalk has added more than 100,000 servers to maintain the stability of the app.

Half of the students in the country are now attending classes through the app, which was originally a mobile office tool and lately adapted to offer online services for schools amid the epidemic, it said.

Internet companies such as NetEase recently provided a full chain of contactless recruitment platform with online resume submission and online interviews. The candidates can sign contracts, attend training workshops and even begin work over the Internet.

Real estate agents have set up online sales offices and resorted to livestreaming to attract consumers. Evergrande has developed an app called Hengfangtong, providing one-stop services from showcasing houses through virtual reality (VR) technology to signing contracts.

Gym trainers offered online home fitness courses on TikTok while museums and galleries launched or repackaged online exhibitions to court stay-at-home visitors.

A number of scenic spots have tapped into VR technology to bring tourists stranded at home to natural landscapes without exposure to the virus, according to Gao Zheng, head of the industrial development department of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Ministry of Commerce encouraged the innovative business model that sprung up during the epidemic, which showed new trends of informatization, high quality, convenience and convergence in the development of the service industry.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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