Ecoresystem: Open and Connected --Speech at BOE IPC 2016 By Wang Dongsheng

Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to BOE’s IPC!

The aim of BOE 2016 IPC is to intensify cooperation with our innovation partners worldwide in order to better serve our customers and provide the best user experience possible, as well as to create new market opportunities. We will be holding this conference annually over the coming years.

Today I am going to share with you my thoughts on emerging global opportunities, challenges faced in the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), and directions of BOE’s operations. The theme of my speech is Ecoresystem: Open and Connected.

I. Let’s look at the opportunities first.

As we know, humankind has existed for several hundred thousand years and has gone through primitive society, agricultural society, industrial society, and information society at present. The last 300 years have seen three industrial revolutions—starting with the steam engine, then later the use of electricity, which went on to power computers, and finally bring about the advent of the Internet. When looking at the evolution of human civilization and the course of industrial development, we may notice a pattern: that industrial development is closely related to three fundamental human issues—the relationships between people and nature, between people and people, and between people and themselves. Technological and industrial progress is centered on resolving these three issues and facilitating their harmonious evolution.

Each revolutionary advance in technology and industry has greatly helped mankind to resolve these three issues, phase-by-phase improving their relationships. However, the triggers for theses advancements, and their points of impact for improving these three relationships occur in a relatively sequential and incremental way.

It was over the course of conquering nature that people first amassed experience and skills, making and refining tools, which gradually developed into related industries like crop planting, animal husbandry, handicrafts, mining, metallurgy, machinery, and the petrochemical industry, among others. What’s more, with improved productivity and technology, people became more closely connected, and their self-awareness and capacity for survival increased. As a result, many industries related to these made great progress, such as the transportation industry, telegraphy, telephony, education, medicine and the arts. Industries improving the three relationships—people-to-nature, people-to-people and people to themselves are sequential and incremental logically while also interacting with one another in an inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing way.

Specifically, the trigger for the First Industrial Revolution was the steam engine. From the perspective of people-to-nature relationship, mechanical power replaced manpower and animal power, leading humankind into the era of mechanized production. Afterwards, railway transportation greatly enhanced people-to-people communication. Almost at the same time, with the Enlightenment in the West reaching its peak and the appearance of mechanical printing and newspapers, people’s self-recognition and the mechanisms for spreading new knowledge and ideas underwent qualitative change.

The trigger for the Second Industrial Revolution was electricity, when ensuing mass production greatly promoted human productivity. The ensuing communications industry, characterized by the telephone and telegraph, thoroughly altered people-to-people communication. Industrialization brought urbanization, which promoted the development of modern education and medicine and the rise of film and broadcast industries, thus changing people’s lifestyles and extending life expectancy thanks to better health conditions.

The Third Industrial Revolution, characterized by the computer, has continued to the present day and brought the Internet Age upon us. The most distinguishing feature of this period is that the people-to-people relationship issue has been further resolved with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry acting as the trigger. With the dawn of the Internet Age, on one hand people-to-people exchanges and communications have been continuously enhanced, bringing about the realization of knowledge, experience and information sharing; on the other hand, through the global sharing of knowledge and information, interdisciplinary interaction and integration have increased substantially, which has, in turn promoted the innovative development of technologies and industries relating to the relationships between people and nature and people and themselves, while the speed and the scope of which have never been seen before. We can already see some of the scenes described by Mr. Ray Kurzweil in his Law of Accelerating Returns and Singularity theory.

Energy accumulated in the Third Industrial Revolution is catalyzing the Fourth one. The Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are driving humankind from the Information Society to the Intelligence Society. Yet the Fourth Industrial Revolution will go far beyond that in depth and breadth. Human beings are facing a self-evolution that has never before happened in the 200,000 years of human history-huge improvements in intelligence, life expectancy and health conditions-disruptive changes led by life sciences and the health industry. If we fail to make this evolution, we may one day be surpassed and even overthrown by the Artificial Intelligence we ourselves have created. Of course we firmly believe that we stand a good chance of making it, because we have built the scientific, technological and industrial foundations for this self-evolution.

Fundamental technological elements embedded in IoT include smart devices connected to each other, Big Data transmitted in huge quantities, as well as AI in the Cloud, with most of their base devices based on silicon materials--so we may call this “silicon life”, although there are also some carbon and other forms; life sciences and the health industry are generally related to carbon-based life. So we can also say that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a scientific and technological revolution based on silicon and carbon life. This is an Industrial Revolution that will take humankind’s relationship with itself to new unprecedented levels. In turn, these advancements will undoubtedly stimulate the development of technologies and industries relating to people-to-nature and people-to-people relationships. This is bound to be a more profound technological and industrial revolution than any in human history. In fifty years, we may face the Fifth Industrial Revolution and I believe that will be related to space technologies. Only when human beings realize self-evolution will we be able to usher in the era of leaping from the Earth to the universe.

IoT, AI and Big Data are offering us market opportunities worth trillions of US dollars. Combined with life sciences and the health industry, the market size will be even larger. That is where our new global opportunities lie.

II. Challenges we face

In turning the above vision into a reality, there are still plenty of big challenges to be faced in terms of technology and ecosystems, among others. In order to develop IoT, three fundamental issues need to be resolved:

First, the need for stronger capabilities in terms of information collection, transmission, computing, storage and presentation. For example, the data storage volume needed for a smart LCD plant is about 500 terabytes, while it takes 15 terabytes to store a newly-born baby’s genetic data; it is therefore evident that current information processing capability is inadequate. We need much more powerful solutions.

Second, the need for more scientific, reasonable, efficient and continually-improving algorithms. IoT is everywhere, and its vitality lies in its interdisciplinary segmentation and integration. For each interdisciplinary segment, there is specific knowledge and technology in the fields of physics, chemistry and biology and so on. To achieve integration and to create new value, AI needs the support of a larger amount of, more scientific, reasonable and efficient mathematical models and algorithms.

Third, the need for high-quality Big Data. AI can only make progress gradually by integrating expertise and technologies in different segmented fields and being continuously fed Big Data from those fields. A high-quality, huge-volume, constant inflow of Big Data forms the basis for the evolution of AI and the creation of new value. That relates to many issues like opening up data in specialized areas, abiding by laws and protecting privacy.

There are a lot of challenges to address; there needs to be a drive to make continuous improvements to basic components and material technologies like sensors, computing, storage, display and transmission; continuous improvements in computing and communication systems; upgrading of software and algorithms; advancements in data capabilities in each segment; and gradual resolutions of issues like information security, privacy protection and social issues and so on. That is a complicated process, and requires the collaboration of governments, industries, academics and researchers.

However, we cannot afford to waste time waiting. Development itself is dynamic, and we can’t wait till everything’s ready. With present technologies and social conditions, there are a lot of things we can still do, or still do better. Problems can be solved step by step in the development process. Therefore, it is necessary for people in various trades and industries to actively communicate and cooperate with each other.

If we simplify an IoT system into its basic elements, it is a system composed of functional hardware, computing units, sensor units, human-computer interface units, communication units, software and content, and so on. Chips are the core components of computing, communication and sensors (It pronounces Xin in Chinese meaning heart or emotions); display panels are the core components of human-computer interface units and also the most important input-output interface for the future IoT(Panel pronounces Ping in Chinese). Software and content are invisible, existing and being transmitted like air; we can call them “Qi” in Chinese, meaning “air”. The various functional hardware is visible, and we can name it a different “Qi” in Chinese,which means “tool or functional object”. They can become nodes or terminals of IoT, only when integrated with chips, display panels and software. IoT put simply is a harmonious combination of related chips, display panels, software and content and functional hardware. It is also a value-creating system, containing connections between people and people, people and things and things with other things. It also becomes a new inclusive industrial ecosystem. I name this ecosystem and its emerging process as Ecoresystem.

The emerging process from this system is a process for solving problems and creating market opportunities, though it is still a gradual process, incomplete yet perfect. It requires open cooperation and collaborative innovation among people of all industries and trades. It also requires calm and profound thinking to reach a harmonious win-win. That is why I explain this process by borrowing a Chinese idiom “Xin Ping Qi He” meaning calm and harmony as a pun (Xin means chip, Ping as panel and Qi as both hardware and software and content).

III. Let’s create the future together.

What is BOE’s role in building this new inclusive industrial ecosystem?

BOE is an IoT company with its foundations in semiconductor display and thin-film sensor technologies. Our business is in three major sectors: display devices and thin-film sensors, smart systems, and smart healthcare services. BOE is an innovation-driven enterprise with huge annual expenditure in R&D. For two consecutive years, BOE has ranked No.1 globally in terms of patent application numbers in the field of semiconductor displays, and Thomson Reuters’ 2016 State of Innovation Report ranked BOE No.2 among its Top 10 Global Innovators in the semiconductor field.

Displays are the hardware interfaces of IoT systems and thin-film sensors are their core data-collection devices. We will dedicate ourselves to technological innovation and the exploration of applications in these areas in order to better serve customers and achieve the best user experience possible. Here are our top three priorities:

First, we will continue to improve our TFT-LCD, AMOLED and next-generation display technologies. We aim to offer the best display technologies, products and services as well as the best user experiences for smart phones, tablets, notebooks, monitors, TVs, cars and other vehicles, industry control panels, medical uses, wearable devices, VR/ARs, and DIDs etc., and establish absolute market dominance through consolidation and upgrades.

Second, we will continue to explore new applications. We will cooperate with enterprises and players in various areas including home appliances, commercial equipment, culture and arts, and healthcare, to support their transformation and help them with smarter equipment and become an essential part of IoT. For example, A fridge with a display system, for example, could become a smart fridge and eventually an IoT terminal. Thus home appliances will be transformed into Internet appliances, a home appliances company becomes an IoT powerhouse. In another example, we can provide a platform for digital art dealing and display technology that can perfectly simulate the texture of fine xuan calligraphy paper, enabling artists to actively take part in the Era of Digital Arts, making the possession of world-class artworks affordable for every family.

Third, we will combine electronic information technologies, such as semiconductor display and sensor technologies with medical and life sciences, promoting trans- disciplinary innovation and developing information medicine, mobile medicine and regenerative medicine. We are establishing a people-oriented healthcare service and Big Data system, helping people to prolong their healthy life expectancy and enjoy high-quality smart healthcare services. These will be our investment priorities in the coming years.

Towards these aims, we are taking actions in three directions:

First, we are completely opening up our application platform. We will work together with enterprises and experts dedicated to IoT to create new hardware, software and applications, and seek new market opportunities.

Second, we are fully opening up our technology platform. We are going to collaborate with companies, colleges, research institutes, and professionals in fields like displays, sensors, AI, IoT solutions and healthcare, etc. so that together we can be a driving force for technological advancement and product innovations, and explore new market opportunities.

Third, we will carry out all-round efforts for harmonious combinations of semiconductor chips, display panels, software and contents as well as functional hardware, joining hands with partners from various industries, developing new applications and creating new market opportunities together.

I have summarized these actions as: Ecoresystem: Open and Connected. We are looking to work openly with innovation partners worldwide in the pursuit of mutual benefit—joining hands for a better future!

Today, we have special guests Mr. Ray Kurzweil, Chancellor of Singularity University, and Mr. Kevin Ashton, Father of the Internet of Things, who will give keynote speeches. They are among my most admired thinkers and scholars. Ray is an expert and entrepreneur in AI. He is also a prominent futurist and his Law of Accelerating Returns and Singularity theory have broadened our horizons. Especially exciting to us is that he said people would be capable of living from up to 500 to 1000 years. Kevin invented the idea of the Internet of Things and is hailed as the Father of IoT. He is also an entrepreneur—founder of three enterprises. He told us that creativity is accessible to anyone; but creation isn’t magic—it’s the result of hard work. I am a salesman of the thoughts of these two buddies. Because of my promoting, for a few times, The Singularity Is Near and How to Fly a Horse sold out in several large cities in China. But I am convinced that my promotion will prove sincere and trustworthy after their speeches today.

That’s all from me today. Thanks for listening!