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Entries in China (11)


4 Bizarre Ideas for Dealing with China's Pollution Problem

China’s air pollution problem is getting worse every year, with 2013 levels literally measuring off the chart. As the issue worsens, we have to wonder, how do urban dwellers cope?

Beyond those stylish SARS-style masks, the Chinese are starting to get pretty creative in their ideas:

Smog-killing bicycles. A British artist living in Beijing has created a prototype for a bicycle that “eats” smog using a gas mask and air filter. (See video above.) No word on when – or if – this incredible idea might take off.

A giant electromagnetic vacuum. A Dutch designer has developed an "electronic vacuum cleaner" to remove smog from city skies. It uses buried coils of copper to create an electrostatic field, which draws in smog particles to create areas of clean air around it. The designer is currently working with the mayor of Beijing to use the technology in a new park in the city. (See video above.)  

Weather modification. The Chinese government claims they’ve successfully modified the weather on certain days. How exactly? By shooting rockets into the sky and inducing rain showers, which help to clear the smog – temporarily. (See video above.)

And, when all else fails…

Filtered nose plugs. Shanghai residents have apparently gotten so fed up with the smog, they’ve started using nose plugs with miniature air filters. And, when those aren’t available, some are trying good old fashioned cigarette butts. (Which, according to the New York Times, does not actually work.)

Here's hoping that the giant vacuum or smog-killing bike idea actually makes a bit of difference for the Chinese. Even if the ideas go nowhere, we're sure that they'll kickstart the kind of innovation that's required to solve this problem for good.


Virtual Supermarkets Taking Hold in China

The Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian is opening 1,000 virtual supermarkets across the country, using unoccupied city spaces and augmented reality (AR) technology to reach more customers than your typical grocery store.

The Tencent Technology News Monday reported that the virtual stores virtually stock around 1,000 items. Customers use their smartphones to view the stores and have the goods they want delivered to their homes, without having to visit the store and wait in line.

Yihaodian had previously rolled out this idea on a smaller scale, partnering location-based services company Jiepang to provide virtual, QR-code shopping in subway stations of Chinese cities.


China to Send a Man to the Moon

The United States may soon be surpassed as the world's leader in space. China announced last week that it intends to place a manned spacecraft on the Moon as just part of its efforts to explore deep space.

According to the whitepaper, the lunar mission would be step one in the country's three-step deep space development plan. Eventually, China hopes to place satellites in orbit around the Moon and return lunar samples to Earth. Their main goal, however, is to build a "foundation for human spaceflight" moving forward.

Chinese officials haven't released a timetable for these goals, but The Guardian reports that the Moon mission could happen as early as 2025 -- more than 50 years after the United States first achieved the feat. Meanwhile, NASA's own plans for the coming decades leave some worried that China will soon leave the agency behind in space. 

As NASA faces weakened public support and slashed budgets, maintaining the space crown seems a daunting task. What do you think the agency should focus on in 2012 and beyond?


China to Install World's Largest Security Network with 500,000 Cameras

Chongqing in southwest China plans to build a $2.6 billion security system with 500,000 surveillance cameras -- the world's largest security network -- by 2012.

The Xinjiang region already has a network of 40,000 security cameras that was installed last year.

The new network will watch over 30 million people and will be used for crime prevention and emergency response.

China has increasingly started to embrace high-tech security measures. For the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the government employed facial recognition technology.


Beijing to Begin Tracking Citizens Using Cell Phones 

Authorities in Beijing plan to begin tracking citizens using cell phone location information, a decision that has already raised concerns about privacy violations.

Dubbed the Beijing Residents Real-time Travel Information Platform, the system will compile information on users' movements around the city. By tracking each person's time of departure, destination and means of transport, city officials hope to gain a better understanding of traffic flow. 

Beijing is notorious for its traffic problems. Remember the nine-day, 62-mile-long traffic jam last year? 

To avoid these types of disastrous delays, Beijing authorities hope to continuously provide traffic information to drivers and other commuters and work toward developing a more effective public transportation system.

Chinese commentators and bloggers, on the other hand, are concerned that cell phone tracking could enable the government to track protestors or dissidents.