前诺基亚设计师：深圳将成为全球产品原型设计中心上网时间： 2014年03月19日? 作者：Junko Yoshida? 我来评论 【字号: 大 ?中 ?小】
Ex-Nokia Designer Leads Shenzhen Media Lab
Coolpad to launch his new smartwatch prototype this month
SHENZHEN, China -- Qifeng Yan, who convinced Nokia to build the Nokia Research Center in Shenzhen in 2010, but became the last one out the door when it closed last year, knows something about Shenzhen, and about the city's potential in the next 10 years. He's betting on Shenzhen's shift from the world's low-wage factory to a global prototyping center.
Yan, now the director and chief researcher at Media Lab (Shenzhen) at Hunan University, is part of the big plan hatched by his employer. Hunan University, in partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology, of Rochester, N.Y., is plotting to expand its Media Lab here — currently consisting of 15 people -- into an incubator for 1,500 researchers.
Typical of most big plans in China nowadays, it's ambitious. It is also possible, considering Yan and his team's experience in working their way around Shenzhen’s built-in electronics industry ecosystem.
Of the three research projects Yan’s team at the Media Lab has launched, one has already turned a research prototype into a commercial product. A smartwatch, running on MediaTek's feature phone chipset, will be launched later this month by Coolpad, a well-known domestic China smartphone brand.
Smartwatch designed by Qifeng Yan, director of Media Lab (Shenzhen) at Hunan University.
Wearable devices -- especially smartwatches -- are all the rage in China. Coolpad, too, had its own smartwatch in development, but had to scratch it. When Yan came to Coolpad, Coolpad jumped on Yan’s design.
“Innovations can't happen in the office,” said Yan. A lot of companies in Shenzhen are too busy keeping up with what their competitors in the rest of the world are doing, he observed.
One problem in Chinese companies is a shortage of people with the talent to define a product and design it. “They pay more to engineers who know how to build electronics, but they don’t necessarily pay well to those who actually design it and architect a project,” Yan explained. Further, Chinese engineers often lack the experience of putting together a team, initiating a project, and leading it, he added.
Yan’s design experience began in Finland. After he got a degree from the University of Helsinki of Art and Design, which recently became Aalto University by merging with Helsinki’s Technology and Business schools, he stayed in Finland and joined Nokia.
Yan, however, got frustrated by the time and energy he had to waste doing Powerpoint presentations and internal politicking just to get the green light for a project. Yan decided that the best way to persuade Nokia management would be to build a prototype -- fast -- and show it to them. Seeing is believing, as they say. There's no better place in the world than Shenzhen for researchers to work on a prototype, adjust, modify, and improve it in order to prove the product concept.
Subsequently, Yan -- born and raised in the Southern China -- talked Nokia into opening the Nokia Research Center in Shenzhen. He became its first (and last) director. At its heyday, the facility had 55 researchers, said Yan. Before Nokia decided to shut down after three years, Yan led the design of Nokia’s eBook for Africa. Featured with a solar panel, the tablet-size device was supposed to become the “One Tablet Per Child” for countries like Kenya and Tanzania, Yan explained.
Nokia built 8,000 units and shipped them in 2012. But that was the first and last lot before Nokia stopped research in Shenzhen. While Yan’s team was quick to define the product, build the prototype, and pull off the working demo, it took a long time for Nokia headquarters to approve the final product, because it had to meet stringent Nokia quality standards, including dropping the tablet without breaking from a height of 1.2 meters. The goals were admirable, but Nokia often missed the window of opportunity for its products. The company wasn’t flexible enough to understand what was good enough for certain products designed for certain applications in certain regions of the world, Yan observed.
Nonetheless, Yan is still a big believer in the power of Shenzhen. Shenzhen’s ecosystem consists of well-stocked parts and components. If the ones needed are not available, they’re easy to source from Hong Kong or elsewhere. Shenzhen has well-developed supply chains, along with software and hardware developers. There are vendors selling PCBs and casings. There are tooling companies, integrators, and, of course, local mega-manufacturing facilities with well-trained factory hands. In essence, Yan says, if you have a good idea, Shenzhen is the place to test, prototype, and manufacture it -- very quickly.
Continua for kitchen appliances
When Yan’s team was designing a smartwatch, they had a plenty of exposure to available chips and components. Eventually Yan picked MediaTek’s low-cost feature phone chipset and disabled the 2G modem part because it drained power.
The watch offers remote-control functions for a smartphone. Its black and white screen looks a little outdated. Yet, its design is no copy of Pebble or Samsung’s smartwatch, because this one is first designed as a watch. It features a number of unique designs to show the time a user can choose.
At Hunan University’s Media Lab in Shenzhen, researchers are working on two other projects. One is a smart kitchen with communication protocols for different kitchen appliances to talk with each another. Yan said, “We are not particularly interested in adding more smarts to kitchen appliances themselves. That will only make them more expensive.”
Rather, by using the power of a smartphone and common communication protocols, standalone dumb appliances can get connected, and smarter. “We are at a demonstration stage,” said Yan, who is working with domestic kitchen appliance makers such as Oulin, Midea, and Vatti. “We think a university media lab is a good mutual place to develop standard communication protocols that could work across the brands,” he noted.
Asked about his goal, Yan said, “We want to be the ‘Continua’ (Continua Health Alliance) of kitchen appliances to build interoperable systems.”
The third project the team is working on is “Design 114.” 114 in China is a phone number for the help line. The team is working on a website called Design 114, whose goal is to enable every designer to get the help he needs quickly.
While the Media Lab doesn’t plan to design for hire, Yan’s team has been invited by Vatti to open a lab inside the company. It poses an opportunity for Media Lab to serve as a catalyst for local Chinese companies to move up the food chain.
Yan hopes that Shenzhen, someday, will end me-too manufacturing, typified by Chinese bosses in local electronics ODMs and OEMs going after quick buck by copying the latest iPhone or Galaxy model. Based on his firsthand experience at Nokia Research Center in Shenzhen and now at the Hunan University Media Lab, Yan foresees Shenzhen eventually as a global mecca where people gather together, prototype their ideas, commercialize new products, and start companies.
In the minds of many locals here, such change is inevitable. Already, Shenzhen no longer offers the cheapest labor (i.e., Foxconn will be building its new production facilities elsewhere) and the cost of living is skyrocketing.
In the following pages, you will be able to take a look inside the Media Lab and at Coolpad's new smartwatch featuring a number of unique designs to show the time a user can choose.
Qifeng Yan in front of Media Lab entrance. Notice the logos of both Hunan University and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The Coolpad watch is designed first as a watch.
If you need to show the time in Chinese characters on the same watch, here it is. Cool typefaces.
Again, here's yet another way to show the time.
A screenshot of the "Design 114" website under development.
Hunan University students working inside Media Lab.
Media Lab director Yan sitting in his office (with a view), showing off his smartwatch on his wrist.
- 热门：拆解iPad Pro和Surface Pro 4
- 市场：体验HTC Vive虚拟游戏，撩妹解乏再不用愁
- 分析：iPhone SE发布，华为、小米、OPPO们背后冷飕飕的
- 博客：从难民到Intel 船长，“偏执狂”格鲁夫的传奇
- 大飞哥说： 各种说法和意见都有,大家唯有静待后续发展,苹果能做这么大,背后也少不了律师团队,各种情况都会应对的了,很…----评《如何看待“iPhone6被判抄袭国产手机，在北京面临禁售”？》
- 风中小鸟说： 现在贸易商越来越来难，其实主要来说无非就两个方面：1、终端客户对你产品品质的质疑，甚至于只相信代理商（当然某些代理商我表示不敢苟同）…----评《电子元件贸易商，未来如何走？？》
- 崔工说： 当前最大的谬误就是将设备联网说成是物联网。特别是把穿戴设备也说成是物联网的核心应用，因此也就把苹果手机的衰落看成是物联网的…----评《巴伦周刊：“物联网”正走向死胡同，你怎么看？》
- 甘贝特说： 之前的公司明确向所有供应商说明，过年过节不可以给这边的员工送礼，不可以请吃，否则员工开除。所以，收不收礼就变得异常简单了。所以说，如…----评《送礼那些事儿：羊毛出在羊身上啦！》
- 天好天说： 社会整体的发展，技术的发展引起不同的分工，对于我们而言不过是社会这个大环境的特有国情与日本有所不同。不过我到是比…----评《中国程序员薪资逆天，而日本搞IT的和卡车司机差不多？》
- 大飞哥说： 个人感觉分深入分析必需有更细的数据来判断,比如乐视电视,手机等主要产品准确主的出货量,乐视汽车什么时候会量产,量产能否达到回收投入成本的…----评《乐视控股是不是一个庞氏骗局？》
- iHoldOn艾豪达说： 安卓网络机顶盒，已经几年了，电子产品更新换代太快，小微企业一不留神就跟不上行业的发展！…----评《爆料：东莞某企恶意拖欠货款，疑因机顶盒业务惨淡》
- 流年似甲说： 美国的工业再造并不是代工生产这个环节。而是以低碳科技为代表的信息、生物、分子、航天、互联网、机器人等高科技产业，以及抛…----评《谁当总统都没用！iPhone不可能迁回美国造》
- Louder说： 都别说风凉话了，这种情况下的员工，其实是弱势群体，选择罢 工还是需要很大的勇气，公司能妥善解决，谁愿意闹事？！…----评《爆苏州仙童（快捷半导体）全体员工罢 工维 权》
- 梁少峰说： 全球范围内而言，电子产业尤其是半导体产业，本身已经进入了发展成熟阶段。之前高速发展时期的资本密集投入与人才密集投入，已…----评《听了这几个IC创业故事，你还想得起诗和远方吗？》
- hiwinjacky说： 深圳要有点自信，华为越做越大，密集的深圳容纳不下，溢出到周边是很正常的，以深圳的电子配套环境，任何电子厂商都不能完…----评《细思恐极：华为人会因任正非变穷吗？》
- Rain--SuperIc说： 大家都来玩的时候，说明这个就会成为趋势，完全的取代是不可能，最起码5年内不会，大客户的价格有多低谁也不知道。IC电商对…----评《大家如可看待IC电商平台？》
- 大飞哥说： 连这些老牌公司都撤了,LED照明已过度竟争了……----评《深圳飞利浦灯饰制造公司正式停止运营》
- kentyuan说： 价格是中小代理商的命门，有真正商业价值的服务仍在探索中。趋势如此，开放灵活，剩者为王。…----评《未来的元器件分销，我有一个执念！》
- hiwinjacky说： 愚以为华为搬去东莞和比亚迪搬到惠州，正是深莞惠一体化的的第一步棋。行政的意愿由企业来具体完成。…----评《华为要的深圳给不起》
- 圈熙说： 电子元器件平台的电商化是一种趋势，电商会让整个行业的物料成本透明化，信息和数据公开化，他们增值和创造利润的点不在是传统企业差价赚取方式，而且…----评《大家如可看待IC电商平台？》
- 语音技术大师说： 从成品的出货、网购上能搜到哪些来看，确实很难得到内里原因的分析！我给您补充一点：那就是穿戴式和今年新热VR一样，…----评《智能手环将死？山寨横行的国内市场又将何去何从？》
- 赵哥说： 房地产代表出来说道了，要求其公允，无异于缘木求鱼。现在应该科技、工业制造等站出来，表达自己的述诉求。ZF再根据总体情况，制定该抑制哪…----评《细思恐极：华为人会因任正非变穷吗？》
- Hans T.说： 建议国家打击这种(硬件免费+内容和服务收费)持续打压、扼杀硬件创新动力的行为，允许某时段使用该手段进行品牌宣传，但持续…----评《小米时代结束了，三大失误让华为有机可乘》
- 宏发继电器深圳销售中心说： 跟原供应商协商一下，看看少折点价换货行不行。如果常用货稍好点，换位思考一下，你们的客户购买产品…----评《要哭了，老板让我把快一年的那批芯片退掉！！要怎么办啊？》
- 深圳喆华电子科技说： 不管是不是电商平台，最终落脚点还是在IC产品性能和稳定性上，电商平台给IC供应商多了一个渠道，但与此同时如果这个渠道本身的推广费…----评《大家如可看待IC电商平台？》
- 3kabc说： 拒付钱。建立防错机制。先小量到货后批量到货。考察供应商诚心，能力。…----评《关于目前代购电商遇到的问题》
- 语音技术大师说： 日企软件算法强么？机械强么？我该说都有一定基础但也都还不算世界第一，特别是软件几乎算是弱者！但是从后端的整体…----评《谷歌都烧钱不起的波士顿动力机器人，丰田为何要接手？》
- 长电科技嫡系代理元宝电子12年说： 花了几个小时边学习边记录！总的感觉是：1，人只有一无所有时，才最有激情与潜能爆发的时候； 2，人的社会阅…----评《技术男转行自己做外贸：三年跑出4千万》