Source: China Daily
Cashierless food and beverage establishments are springing up across China as more dining spaces embrace technologies to improve efficiency and trim costs.
In July, Singaporean bakery chain BreadTalk Group Ltd unveiled its first unmanned outlet in Shanghai. Customers scan a QR code to register their presence and authorize payment via Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's mobile wallet Alipay.
There are cameras and sensors to detect when customers open the fridge door and items such as bread, buns, yoghurt and juices are removed from shelves. Money is deducted automatically as shoppers complete the purchase and close the fridge door.
BreadTalk said in a statement the self-help facility allows customers to circumvent long queues. The company said it hopes to leverage the consumer data generated from such purchases to adjust inventory and recipes.
The store marks another step for foreign catering brands launching cashierless services in China. It follows United States fried chicken expert KFC introducing its smart store last year in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where electronic kiosks allow diners to order and pay "with a smile".
"The addition of the 24/7 self-service aspect is set to bring in a new revenue stream, and is likely to maximize average customer spending and sales per unit area," said Chen Sheng, vice-president of Alibaba affiliate Koubei, which provides technological support and analytics services for merchants.
The sector is attracting a growing army of data analytics players, such as Koubei, that are jumping on the smart catering bandwagon.
Beijing-based Keruyun Technology (Beijing) Co Ltd has developed a series of intelligent catering management devices to improve traditional restaurants' efficiency, including a self-service ordering desktop and smart cashier device.
Its systems are empowering and optimizing the operation of the likes of Spacelab, a restaurant featuring high-tech elements that has gained great popularity of late.
At Spacelab, customers can order food and pay through Keruyun's devices. Upon completion, the order will be quickly delivered to the kitchen via its display system. The chef will put the finished dish into a transmission orbit that conveys the food directly to customers. No waiter is required during the entire process.
While a 1,300-square-meter restaurant would typically require 80 to 100 service people, Spacelab only employs 40. Its turnover rate has also greatly improved, meaning that the restaurant can serve many more customers each day.
"The younger generations are comfortable serving themselves and are used to making their own choices. So we see great potential for self-service in-restaurant dining," said Lin Tingyang, founder of milk tea owner Heilongtang.
Source: China Daily
SHENZHEN - The tax bureau in Shenzhen and Tencent announced Friday that China's first blockchain-based invoice had been issued to a local restaurant.
According to the tax bureau, companies can submit applications for invoices and declare tax on the blockchain platform supported by Tencent, which will automatically generate invoices after transactions are completed.
Cai Yige, manager of Tencent's blockchain business, said the distributed ledger, a core technology of blockchain, enabled secure sharing and storage of transaction records among all parties in the invoicing process, making it impossible to tamper with invoice information.
The bureau and Tencent launched an innovation lab in May, to explore solutions to optimize tax services and prevent risks using cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data.
Source: China Daily
An artificial intelligence-supported vascular disease diagnosis and treatment collaboration system is being researched and is in development, and will be applied in 300 Chinese hospitals among 1,000 doctors by 2020, according to experts attending the 15th Chinese International Congress of Vascular Medicine held in Beijing on Friday and Saturday.
The system is designed to to enhance diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease in the country by collecting and analyzing medical records of vascular disease and related illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke, in volunteer hospitals. Then, based on data comparison and analysis, it will be able to make diagnosis and treatment suggestions to doctors, as well as enable online collaboration between doctors and hospitals for difficult cases.
"The aim is to change vascular disease diagnosis and treatment practice in China, because the system is able to bridge the information gap between doctors and hospitals, and make great use of medical data," said Wang Hongyu, director of the Department of Vascular Medicine, Peking University Shougang Hospital.
The hospital is one of the initiators of the program. The others include Tsinghua University, Xiamen University, and China National Software and Service Co Ltd.
China has about 400 million people suffering from vascular disease, Wang said, adding early detection and intervention, including educating the public to adopt healthy lifestyles, are crucial for China to reduce the economic burden of vascular disease.
Source: China Daily
At the CIROS2018 robot exhibition, Siasun Robot and Automation Co Ltd premiered to the world its newly developed robot with snake-shaped arms, unveiling its uniqueness on the spot.
The company uses the concept of bionics to get inspiration from the dexterity of the snake. The specificity of the shape and its working mode are both completely different from traditional discrete articulated robots. This kind of robot adopts an end-following control method, which greatly improves the flexibility and adaptability of the robot and makes it more suitable for working in extremely harsh conditions.
With 12 joints and 24+1 degrees of freedom, the product can smoothly and flexibly avoid obstacles, and can also be operated by remote control. The product is mainly used in narrow spaces and harsh environments. The robot can use different tools to complete many complex tasks. These include drilling in the narrow environment of the wing rib compartment of aircraft, maintenance of reactor cooling pipelines in nuclear power plants, investigation of military targets over a field of view, and rescuing trapped people at earthquake sites.
Source: China Daily
While online shoppers might be in the mood to binge shop even in the middle of the night, online retailers may find that hiring enough customer service staff who agree to work the night shift is an increasingly costly burden.
This is a typical dilemma that Abitai Tech, a Chinese artificial intelligence startup founded in 2016, is trying to solve with its AI technology and human-computer interactive system.
Targeting the field of e-commerce customer service in vertical industries such as maternity and baby products, Abitai unveiled an AI-powered interactive dialog system named Robota and an e-commerce customer service chatbot in Beijing on Wednesday.
Robota, based on AI natural language processing, multiround interaction and interactive recommendation technologies, can significantly reduce the threshold of the dialogue interaction design, reduce the access cost of the personalized intelligent guide and dialogue robot for retailers, and improve the development efficiency and performance of the chatbot, according to the company.
"Different from traditional customer service tools, the intelligent assistants customized for large customers and the general after-sales intelligent assistants, the AI shopping guide solution developed by Abitai, focusing on certain commodity categories and business scenarios in vertical industries, can deal with the more challenging tasks in presales," Hu Yunhua, CEO of Abitai, said during the launch event.
Hu said Abitai's chatbot can play a great role in helping retailers to achieve profit growth because it can address 97 percent of questions raised by customers, its independent reception rate can reach 60 percent and 15 percent of the customers it receives choose to place orders after consulting with it.
China's e-commerce trading volume reached 29.16 trillion yuan ($4.41 trillion) last year, up 11.7 percent year-on-year, of which the online retail sales increased to 7.18 trillion yuan, with the number of China's online shoppers growing to 533 million, according to data released by the Department of Electronic Commerce and Informatization, Ministry of Commerce in May.
The massive online consumer population has brought challenges to online retailers. To offer efficient and high-quality customer services, they need to increase human resources investments if there are no other alternative solutions.
Liu Yang, founder of Xiaolu Inc, a company running the disposable diapers brand Deerting on e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD, said: "Ninety-six percent of our sales are achieved on e-commerce platforms, but we do not want to keep increasing customer service staff. And as the costs in staff maintenance rise, we hope to further reduce the manpower."
Liu said Deerting is now using Abitai's chatbot. "From 12 pm to 8 am, Abitai's chatbots play the role of customer service staff for us and they have performed well."
Abitai's Robota project was initiated last May and was first piloted on the single category of disposable diapers. Since then, it has transformed from a knowledge-oriented question-and-answer robot to a task-oriented robot and then to a recommendation robot, according to Zheng Juncheng, chief operating officer of Abitai.
Zheng said Robota now has been serving clients from multiple segments such as clothing, home appliances and jewelry, and it is expected to achieve mass replication across different commodity categories and different industries in the future.
In an interview with chinadaily.com.cn, Hu said even on the world stage, Abitai's AI-powered e-commerce chatbot technology is on top because it has a first-mover advantage and there is strong demand in China's e-commerce market.
With its technical strength in machine learning, natural language processing and data mining, Abitai received the KDD 2018 Startup Research Award this year.
The company also announced the start of its A round of financing at the launch event. It has received more than 30 million yuan of financing from investors such as Palit Asset Management Co Ltd and K11 Art Mall so far.