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  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

From Smelling to Handwriting, Technology Goes Back to Basics in China

SHANGHAI – In the era of the artificial intelligence revolution, some companies in China are using the technology to reclaim the essence of being human by reinforcing the value of things like writing by hand or the sense of smell.

Richard Huang, the international trade director of Chinese company Super Note, told EFE that as people were being forced to adapt to a paper-less world, it would be a pity to lose something as precious as the feeling of writing by hand.

The company has developed electronic tablets which can not only be used to read documents but also to write with a sensation more similar to writing on paper than on an electronic product, according to Huang.

The company had developed a folio-size device and this week unveiled a smaller and user-friendly model at the CES tech exhibition in Shanghai – one of the most important tech shows in Asia.

Huang explained that a digital pen helped users to write on digital books, make annotations, draw and prepare any document by hand, which could be later converted to a PDF document.

Amid highly advanced robots and the latest innovations in facial recognition displayed at the show by tech companies from all over the world, there is also some space for companies which are using the new technologies to promote feelings which have been pushed to the margins precisely because of the increasing influence of technology.

This includes things as essential and traditional as Chinese calligraphy.

An employee of Beijing Founder Electronics – a Chinese company that displayed a tech system at the expo to teach and correct Chinese characters – told EFE that calligraphy was very important for the Chinese people but the art was being lost to mobile phones and other similar devices.

The users write on an e-tablet which incorporates sensors and uses a mobile phone application to detect mistakes and also shows the correct way of writing.

The official said the system could also be useful for children, as it was important that they practiced from a very young age, and the device could help them pursue a calligraphy course without having to depend on teachers.

And this system goes beyond simply writing on a notebook, as the company has also developed an app which uses a phone or tablet camera, pointed towards the paper, to check if the user is writing a letter correctly with brush and ink, as done by traditional calligraphers.

Apart from the latest advances in 5G technology, vehicles with highly advanced integrated technology have been in the limelight at the three-day tech show that concluded on Thursday.

Tom Zeiss, the spokesperson of the Chinese company Scentrealm, said while most of the brands were focused on video and sound, the founder of his company chose to concentrate on odors.

With the help of nanotechnology, the company has managed to create a business based on “digital aroma,” developing electronic devices that emit odors and can be used in different situations.

One of the targets is cinemas. Smelling coffee when the protagonists of a film are sipping is possible, thanks to a device – which users can hang around their neck – pre-programed for releasing smells matching each situation or scene.

Zeiss said the company was already carrying out trials in more than 100 cinemas. He also mentioned other uses of the technology such as virtual reality or sales of products such as perfumes.

The technology can also be used in the automotive industry, as the company has developed a camera which is installed in cars and releases a refreshing smell to prevent the driver from sleeping if it notices him or her blinking more than usual.

Zeiss said that surrounded by so many images and sounds, we are forgetting something basic: the smells. And his company’s products would make it possible to live a much more complete sensory experience.


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