Sunday, October 13, 2013

Can China's Maker Movement change the Shanzhai phenomena?

In a recent article from Wall Street Journal called "In China, Lessons of a 'Hackerspace'", the author mentioned a Maker Movement which is becoming more and more popular in China. 
Xinchejian, China's first formal "Hackerspace", is a community-run workshop where ordinary people tinker with everything from art objects to robots. [1]
And the article feature one lady called Ms. Peng who wanted to make a tree that could talk. With the encouragement of others at Xinchejian, she learned to drill and solder and to work with arduino, an open-source microcontroller board that is user-friendly. Her new skills helped her to attach sensors and colored lights to an actual tree so that it would react to human touch. The tree spoke both English and Chinese: The more you interacted with it, the more it talked, its sound growing richer and its lights flashing vividly.[1]

This is just one example of how Maker Movement is gaining ground in China which contradicts the traditional view that China's limited capacity to innovate. 
With the advancement of technology, people with great ideas can start from scratch, turning ideas into 3D models and then product objects in 3D-printers. The cheapest 3D-printer from MakerBot is only about 2000 dollars. 
And this kind of Maker movement also gained the support from the government. Local government also wish to take advantage of this maker movement to nurture the innovation among the grassroots. 
China, as literally the factory for the whole world, started its electronics manufacturing about two decades ago and now are gradually transforming from a manufacturing economy to an innovation hub which has lots of potential for software/hardware design. If we do a quick math, out of 10 million workers in China, if 1% of them start learning advanced skills, then the whole country will have 100 thousand workers. If they continue doing the work for a few years with adequate education, maybe 1% of them will become designers. This will help evolve innovation. 
In Shenzhen, where you can find nearly everything you need to make an electronics device,  a lot of people who have great experience in manufacturing are beginning to leverage their design talent and work with partners overseas with the help of platform like Kickstarter. 
The success of Xiaomi is a great example of Maker Movement. Xiaomi first started as a community to bring deeply customized Android ROM called MIUI. Then the founder saw the potential for providing device to the community running their ROM and they designed the hardware of the phone,  got the prototype based in Shenzhen. Compared to the Samsung phone or the Apple device, the Xiaomi cellphone has great advantage in terms of price and localization. It became an instant hit. And the Xiaomi phone has launched its third generation. The company not only offer cellphone but also TV box, smart TV, all at great affordable price. Most recently, Xiaomi topped the headline around the globe since the Hugo Barra, Android Product Management VP of Google joined Xiaomi. The company's market valuation is to be 10 billion dollars. [2] 

[1] In China, Lessons of a 'Hackerspace':
[2] Xiaomi, What Americans Need To Know:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.