Asia: the star of innovation

Discover how Asia dominates the high-tech and innovation market today.

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In January, Las Vegas held the main event of the year for the high-tech industry: CES - or the Consumer Electronic Show. This time around, more than ever before, visitors witnessed a market dominated by innovations from Asia. No longer just the global factory, Asia has also become the leader in innovations, and a major consumer of these new technologies. There are many reasons behind this current drive.

What's new on the high-tech market?

Artificial intelligence
Intelligent assistants were a major trend for CES 2017. More and more sectors are taking up this technology, particularly with home automation. The Korean manufacturer LG introduced its Hub Robot to the market. 

Virtual and augmented reality
VR and AR glasses and helmets are now becoming accessible, and compatible smartphones have popularised the technology even more. Korea's success with Samsung in the mobile VR market is a great example. 

Increasingly designed for the general public, these also come in the form of selfie drones, which can be controlled by smartphone and are small enough to fit in your pocket. At the same time, the range of semi-pro drones on the market is growing, offering drones with increasingly high-performance cameras.

Autonomous transport

The spotlight was on next-generation cars. These cars are driverless but, more importantly, can now interact with passengers. Toyota's Concept-i has built-in AI, anticipates users' needs, and learns over time to understand and analyse their moods to be able to suggest what might make them more comfortable (music, lighting, etc.). Honda's version of this is the NeuV. Honda has also developed a motorbike that can stay upright by itself when parked and when travelling at a slow speed, and can be driven remotely.

Next-generation televisions
All the innovative televisions presented at CES were fitted with OLED technology, designed by the Korean manufacturer LG. This technology makes screens flexible like wallpaper, meaning they can be easily attached to a wall.

3D printers
These are becoming increasingly efficient and can now even print in metal. This innovation market is thriving most of all in China, where it is subsidised by the state. Houses and buildings are all printed in 3D! It should be noted that the majority of influential products presented at CES hailed from Asia.  

Innovation Made in Asia

Asia is undoubtedly the world’s innovation hub. The level of investment in research and development (R+D) and the number of patent filings demonstrate this supremacy. China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong are all innovation pioneers. Vietnam, India or Malaysia are also innovation hotbeds. 

Why innovation? 
This surge in innovation is down to economic factors. Encouraging it is a key challenge in the midst of a global financial and economic crisis. It's all about appealing to investors and using foreign labour to support growth in countries that tend to lose their economic momentum, China being a case in point. But innovation makes it possible to support growth in new economies on the verge of industrialisation. Take Japan, for instance, which is faced with an ever-shrinking availability of natural resources. 

Politics that support innovation 
Support for start-ups is one of the many ways in which politics is backing innovation. Every country in Asia is working to develop ecosystems that support the creation and setting up of start-ups which, in turn, lead to innovation. In Taipei, President Tsai Ing-Wen paved the way for the creation of more than 100 incubators, including the very popular Garage+. Asian countries, with Korea at the forefront, are seeking to become more and more connected. This connectivity supports innovation.  

It is thanks to these favourable politics that research and innovative products are on the increase. These products feature heavily in the Internet of Things (IoT) market as well as in the area of sustainable innovation. 

Innovation and environmental causes
Asian countries are often faced with environmental issues: soaring population densities in cities, traffic and pollution to name just a few. Innovation products are all about improving quality of life. Cities need to become smart cities. Tokyo is a pioneer in the Smart Grids industry, for example. These intelligent electrical grids are installed into electric taxis. Singapore is generating multiple innovations in energy optimisation and urban mobility. The Gardens by the Bay , a forest of solar-powered trees, attest to this trend. Innovations in the antipollution industry are also growing in number. 

The new Silicon Valleys are and will continue to be in Asia. The Asian continent has become THE innovation hub that the rest of the world needs to rely on.   

Published by Julie on 08/09/2017 Photo credit: © Istock ©visualspace
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