The year of 2016 saw another round of technology improvements and breakthroughs. Take a look at what technologies Chinese netizens care about the most, as revealed by Baidu search data.
1. Virtual Reality (VR) goes mainstream
VR received massive amounts of both attention and capital investment in 2016. Major companies including Sony, HTC and Facebook Oculus have released VR headsets. VR technology is becoming more widely used in gaming, and content producers are working to enhance user experience using the technology.
2. The first direct detection of gravitational waves
On February 11th, 2016, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) stated that gravitational waves were, for the first time, directly observed from the merging of two black holes. First proposed by Albert Einstein, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time and were previously an unobserved, theoretical concept.
3. AlphaGO defeats Lee Sedol
Lee Sedol, one of the world’s top players of the board game Go, was defeated 1-4 by AlphaGO, Google DeepMind’s artificial-intelligence program, in March of 2016.
4. The successful launch of the Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft
China in October successfully launched the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, its sixth manned space flight mission. The craft carried two astronauts to the Tiangong-2 space laboratory for a 33-day mission to test the laboratory’s life support systems, make observations, and gain space experience, before returning to Earth on November 17th.
5. Autonomous Vehicles
2016 witnessed crucial developments of autonomous driving, with players in the field investing heavily in the relevant technologies. Among the leading players is Baidu, whose fully autonomous car fleet conducted a public test drive in China’s southern tourist town of Wuzhen in November, taking a total of 300 passengers on a 3.16km route.
6. DNA Sequencing
Genomics applications in 2016 continued its move from lab research into clinical practice for diagnosis and therapy. As the next generation sequencing technologies develop, the shift is expected to see lower costs and better performance.
7. Baidu launches Baidu Brain
Baidu unveiled its full AI-powered Baidu Brain platform in September. Designed to benefit developers, entrepreneurs and traditional enterprises worldwide, Baidu Brain has made progress in key AI function areas including speech, image recognition, and natural language processing.
8. PowerEgg Drone
The world’s first gesture-based one-handed drone controller was introduced in August, as the Beijing-based PowerVision launched its egg-shaped PowerEgg drone. The controls allow anyone to fly PowerEgg drone, which can take off and land with a single push of a button.
9. Bitcoin price spikes
In November, the price of one bitcoin spiked, surpassing USD 750. The all-time high up till now is USD 1,124.76, a number reached in November 2013.
10. Atlas Humanoid Robot
In early 2016, American firm Boston Dynamics released the latest version of its bipedal Atlas robot. The latest version features an upgraded algorithm that enables the humanoid robot to better balance itself while navigating difficult surfaces.