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Lenovo Tech World Day 4

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 1
Lenovo Tech World Day 2
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

Day 4 arrived rather quickly – it was the second day of Lenovo Tech World and a day that focused on the consumer side of things, rather than business. All the gadgets!

Again we boarded the bus early, and sat for our 90 minute drive to the convention center.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing (aka YY) again introduced the day, tieing in what was presented yesterday in the world of business and SiOT, and how it came back to the devices Lenovo currently had, and were planning. It also tied into the technologies we’d seen at the Lenovo Future Center two days before, which helped explain their vision in a bit more detail.

The ‘deeep’ acronym was used a lot to explain this vision, which was:

smart device
Cross-device engine
Home Edge server
App/Service ecosystem
People-oriented smart experience

Lenovo recognised that people now want smart, stylish and personalised devices. They’re applying this to their Core Smart Devices, and extending out to Other Smart Devices

Then, with a slight hint of smugness, YY announced the was ‘One More Thing’… which ended up being two things; the world’s first foldable PC (The X1 ThinkPad Foldable) and the Motorola Razr. For the two days we’d been expecting this, as we’d spied a little Motorola circle hiding right up above the stage. We were right, it slowly descended for YY to take out the new device, and show off it’s folding ability as he proceeded to pop it into his top pocket.

Next up were more devices, and a demonstration of the Lenovo One software. This software allowed an Android phone’s screen to be duplicated and controlled on a laptop screen which was cool in itself, but also extend the Android’s screen to result in a second screen, running separately to the first. The Lenovo One solution also had file sharing capabilities, and tied back into the Home Edge Server aspect.

Home Edge Server was another interesting angle Lenovo was approaching things on – the idea of a home server isn’t something new, but it was tying all the devices and technologies for ease of use, to have the smarts and storage of a device in your home rather than in the cloud. They didn’t touch too much on the ‘why’ of this that I picked up, but I think it’s a bit more about giving the control and trust of this back to people, rather than relying on a central resource to do it. It seems Lenovo is playing it both ways (which is good to give people options) – bringing centralised cloud based smart systems to businesses, and bringing centralised home based smart systems to consumers.

Moving onto more devices and continuing the theme of ‘having it both ways’, Lenovo delved into two product lines; ThinkPad and ThinkBook. The former being the more conservative style, and the much newer brand ThinkBook being a more modern feel with customisations.

Some of the cool things coming to these devices:

ThinkPad was coming with ‘E-privacy guard’ where it would automatically detect someone looking over your shoulder, and blur out the screen.

ThinkVision M14 was brought up again as a useful standalone monitor, able to be plugged into a mobile or laptop ( I still really like this one!)

The ThinkPlus brand was brought up again, this time as a Smart Conference Solution. It was the reasonably standard video conferencing solution, but again trying to encompass the entire solution rather than bits and pieces – video camers, screens, devices, and real-time translation from one language to another. This seemed to resonate with several people I talked to later, around providing a much more inclusive solution when dealing with people in different languages – everyone could talk in their native language and be more confident.

The show wrapped up with the announcement Lenovo would be sponsoring the Chinese Women’s National Volleyball team, and had a chat to the captain – which was a nice moment to end on.

With the show over, we were rushed away to have a quick opportunity to get a hands-on with the Motorola Razr that everyone wanted to check out.

I was really interested to see how the screen folded for starters – and although this was a prototype and not the end product, it seemed quite robust. The screen actually moved up or down when opening/closing the device to prevent stress on the end-point, which makes sense when you’re told it, but it’s a strange thing to see the entire screen move a little!

The Razr was also thinner than I expected. I liked the take on making a phone smaller to carry around and use (and that front display screen is also touch, and able to do basic phone functions + photos without actually opening the phone), rather than trying to make the device size we’re used to have a bigger display again.

We then wandered around the convention centre a bit more, where I bought my thinkplus USB-C 13000mAh, 48W laptop battery pack that I later lost at the airport. I still have the empty box that haunts me, reminding me of my ignorance in battery-in-checked-luggage rules.

It was time to be a tourist again, so we hopped on the bus and headed to the Temple of Heaven. I learnt a little about all the sacrificial customs they obeyed at the time, and yet again was amazed at the effort, detail and age of all the constructions and artifacts on display.

Following that was another impressive dinner served on a lazy-susan and a good night’s sleep.

Again I tweeted as much as I could on the day, so have a read through my Twitter thread for a few more bits of information and photos I took along the way:

Lenovo Tech World Day 2

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 1
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 4
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

After having the best sleep I’ve had in a long time, in a rather classy hotel room at Shangri-La;

…. I headed down for a buffet breakfast. An abundance of new foods lead me to choose a bowl full of bite sized samplers, many of which I don’t know what they’re called or contain – but all were quite tasty:

After filling up, we loaded onto the bus to visit Lenovo Headquarters in Beijing. I had no idea what to expect inside, apart from visiting the ‘Future Center’ and seeing some products:

At the Lenovo HQ Enterance

We were ushered through to the Future Center after using the fingerprint driven lockers (which seems like a much better idea than the old PIN style lockers), we had two volunteers have their face scanned in for a lot of the facial recognition systems we were about to see.

Those people’s faces were used to unlock a rather impressive silver ball structure, causing some of the balls to change colour. The faces were then used to get past security gates, again showing now accurate and quick facial recognition can be with real world use cases.

After some impressive visual displays, we were taken into Lenovo’s vision of what AI tech at home could look like. Some of the concepts were:

In the lounge, having a system that would give recommendations driven by AI and machine learning from news, weather, holiday destinations, movie and TV selections and shopping to display to you what you want without needing to select it in the first place – e.g. sitting down in the evening after dinner usually means you want a movie selection, so it will display that information first.

In the bedroom, monitoring your sleep and keeping a perfectly climatised environment, along with opening the blinds in the morning for natural sunlight.

In the kitchen, interfaces which can guide you through a cooking process from beginning to end – knowing what food you have and ordering more if needed, telling you what ingredients to add and how exactly to do each step.

And in the garage (ok it’s car related but I’m keeping the ‘home’ theme going) a car that unlocks with an app rather than a key, and more importantly, is connected to a network that controls the entire road experience – from finding the best route based on traffic, to knowing when pedestrians are crossing the road from intersection cameras and reporting back to the car rather than expecting onboard cameras to see all risks.

None of this is mind-blowing in itself and in isolation, but together this all builds a picture of what our lives could be in the very near future. AI and machine learning are buzzwords constantly thrown around these days, but seeing and understanding how these high level concepts can be applied in particular situations, and Lenovo’s vision of how they see it working is worth understanding. Of course Lenovo is not the only company working towards these goals, but one of the messages that came across is that Lenovo is working hard to build relationships with other vendors to achieve those goals – Lenovo are trying to build upon their specialities, and partner with other companies who have different specialities that can come together for an all encompassing solution.

After the eye-opening Future Center experience, we then entered through the next several rooms containing Lenovo hardware. First up was several office desk setups including Ultrawide screens, stand-up and sit down desks, and artist peripherals.

Next we entered an area containing gaming devices – from a gaming computer in a Star Trek USS Enterprise NCC-1701 case, to a water cooled computer in a bubble known as ‘Winbot’. There were several Legion branded laptops and desktops too.

The Virtual Reality units Lenovo is involved in were also on display; Star Wars and Marvel AR headsets, the Lenovo Mirage, and the Oculus Rift.

Then we had a look at the mobile options – both Lenovo branded phones which aren’t globally available, and Motorola which are (and Lenovo now owns). Some of the other less known products were shown here too – like electronic door locks, robot vaccuums and air humidifiers.

We then saw some of my favorite product line devices – the ‘Think’ series. The Thinkvision P44w – a 43.4″ ultrawide monitor caught my eye first, as it’s on my ‘love to have’ list. The small ThinkPlus Mini 45w power adapters were also there, which really looks like a great travel accessory to replace the standard laptop power brick we’re all used to. Of course all the latest ThinkPads, Yogas and other Lenovo laptops were on display too, as well as the ThinkVision M14 – a portable USB-C monitor that can be a secondary monitor for your laptop or tablet/mobile phone.

The tour kept going, and if you can’t tell already, this was probably the main highlight of the entire trip and I wish we’d had more time there. The next area was more server focused, with again a bunch more hardware laid out to look at. This included an enclosed datacentre amongst server hardware:

Finally for the Future Center we were able to see some of Lenovo’s ideas in action – an area that showcased how their technology can and is being used in the real world. Focuses included a learning environment where students could be monitored to see if they were sitting/standing, reading/listening, happy/neutral etc – things a teacher does already, but can glance at a screen to quickly identify what the entire room is doing rather than relying on their own visual check of everyone. Lenovo also have their foot in the door for medical solutions, and 3D rendering/virtual reality/engineering. It was good to see where Lenovo had found use cases for the ideas they had.

Next up was the ‘Unmanned Store’ – an actual working store in Lenovo, that lets staff use facial recognition paired with reading NFC (I assume) chips attached to supermarket supplies, letting someone go into the store, load up on what they want, and self check-out the items. It worked a heck of a lot better than I’ve seen the local supermarkets trying to let customers self-service, and I even got someone to buy me a warm Ovaltine drink :)

Even more stuff! We then went over to the Lenovo Reliability Labs where we saw staff working away on several things – vibration tests, sound tests (and going into a room with next to no echo is a great way to unnerve yourself), radio wave interference tests, and environmental tests. The environmental tests are performed by putting a device into a large oven like system, and they showed what happened to a screen at 150oC.

After lunch, even more tech treats were in store for us. We spoke to a few Lenovo employees who were talking about the product lines they looked after, which included William (who owns over 300 different ThinkPads – world record holder!) who brought in some nostalgic and weird devices from the history of ThinkPads. We also had a hands on with the new Legion laptops, and the Yoga S940 amongst others.

If that wasn’t enough for one day, we then visited the Summer Palace, and had another great dinner which as always, was presented on a Lazy Susan as we politely fought for access to the plates we wanted the most.

Here’s what I tweeted for this day of the trip – click through to see a bunch of observations and photos:

Lenovo Tech World Day 1

See my other posts on:
Lenovo Tech World Day 2
Lenovo Tech World Day 3
Lenovo Tech World Day 4
Lenovo Tech World Day 5 & 6

About a month ago, I received the invitation to attend Lenovo Tech World in Beijing, China – fully sponsored by Lenovo for being a part of their Lenovo Insiders program. I jumped at the opportunity and thankfully was able to organise work, home and the visa requirements for getting into China in a short enough time to make the trip.

I’d never been to China before, so the prospect of both a completely new place to visit, plus being emersed in the latest technology from Lenovo was a double win to look forward to. The trip was planned for 5 days plus travelling, and included a mix of technology and sight-seeing. On the trip I learnt that this was part of Lenovo’s goal – to expose more of China to the rest of the world since it’s where they come from themselves.

Beyond having a very long 3 leg flight from Adelaide > Sydney > Hong Kong > Beijing and being very tired at the end of it, the journey was rather uneventful. Landing in China and getting past immigration wasn’t much of a hassle, and I even had a driver waiting holding up my name to take me to the accomodation we were staying at – the Shangri-La Hotel.

I expected more of a culture shock than what I actually experienced – beyond everything being written in Mandarin wherever I looked, I didn’t feel offput – just interested in seeing the differences of the world I’m used to in Australia compared to China. One lesson I learnt very quickly was about zebra crossings – cars just drive through them and unofficially seem to have right of way. An Australian could very easily get run over as we’re used to all cars stopping when crossing the road on a crosswalk!

After getting to the hotel, I was treated to an amazing lunch with Lenovo staff and journalists who were also attending Tech World. This was an example of all meals to come – vast amounts of options of premium food catering to all tastes. I’m generally not someone who takes photos of what they eat, but all the food was both greatly different to what I was used to, and visually appealing (for the most part!).

My first meal in China

Following lunch and after a much needed nap, I was awoken by the hotel room phone asking where I was. I’d slept a bit longer than planned, and in a half asleep daze rushed downstairs again to meet and have dinner with the other Lenovo Insiders who’d been invited also. In no particular order, here they all are – all very friendly and smart people:

Arthur H Walker, Vernon Chan, Onica Cupido and Lawrence Mann. I’ve linked to their Twitter accounts, but they’re present in different social media spaces too.

I also have to mention Yuszela from Lenovo who looks after us Insiders, who’s incredibly easy to work with and gets the best outcome for everyone involved. Although I’d been dealing with her for years, this was my first opportunity to meet her in real life too – icing on an already stunning cake of tech, people and environment that was making up this trip.

One of the intriguing parts of China that pretty much everyone’s heard of, is the Chinese Firewall – internet in China doesn’t allow many sites including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so a lot of time was spent testing and trialing different VPN solutions so we were able to do what we’re here for; sharing the experience with others. There seems to be a cat and mouse game happening between commercial VPN providers and China in shutting down and getting around VPN blocking. In my limited experience it seems no one VPN solution is a silver bullet answer, so if you’re travelling to China and need guaranteed access to the entire public internet, make sure you have a few VPN options available.

I’m sure there’s a few things I’m forgetting about day 1, but I’ll use the excuse of being too tired to remember. The tech starts tomorrow with a visit to Lenovo HQ, so stay tuned for that!