So I’ve been in China this week checking out the Lenovo operation and learning a bit more about what it is they do. I work at an engineering firm during the day. We have two plastic injection moulding machines and 4 pick and place machines. We’re at the forefront of developing new technology in Africa and the world with regards to fixed fire engineering products. I thought my day job was pretty impressive. It is nothing compared to the Lenovo set up in Beijing. There are two incredibly large campuses in the city and we’ll be heading off to Lenovo Tech World tomorrow where I’m expecting to see the launch of a new product or two and also listen to some keynote addresses from leading technology professionals from the likes of Intel.
Day 1 was pretty eventful though. For starters social media (and gmail!) is impossible to get working. The Chinese government has blocked the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google related products and apps. Funnily enough though, Tinder works. Go figure! Luckily Know Roaming works a treat and is able to log you in to your favourite networks. Though at $0.50 per MB it is an expensive exercise. We got to spend day 1 visiting the Great Wall of China and today we headed to one of the Lenovo campuses to see how they test products and chat to some of the designers.
For the most part we weren’t able to see a lot. We were taken on a guided tour of the campus and walked through the testing process after being given a brief history of Lenovo. I think the one thing we can all relate to is the absolute frustration when technology just doesn’t work. When your phone freezes and has to be restarted or when your computer shuts down one day and just never comes back on. Broken technology is the worst!
I have a little bit more sympathy for technicians after today though. Lenovo has so many laboratories dedicated to testing products under extreme conditions. From high heats, low temperatures and even drop tests for packaging (less about a good product and more about a great box) – your little laptop’s clone has gone through a hell of a lot before it ends up in your hands.
So when it fails any way I imagine a small pink cherub loses his wings. Probably not, the point is that it shouldn’t fail. Tech companies like Lenovo are constantly running tests on their products (and the competition) to ensure you’ll want to buy their product as opposed to any other.
The cool part of today, for me, was the sound testing room. A cool 2 million dollar spend it is the most incredible room that is used to test devices and ensure our gadgets emit sound at low decimal points. This is because some arb surveys from Sweden and the like confirmed that stress is reduced in quiet areas, lower stress in the office means higher productivity… so no need to worry about the shrill ringing of your telephone – the PC needs to make less noise.
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the room.
Tomorrow we head to Lenovo Tech World which I think will have a few more product based announcements you might find interesting. For now, here are some fun tech (and Lenovo) related facts you can toss around at a dinner party to sound worldly and knowledgeable:
Lenovo means “legend of new thinking”, the Chinese word translates to directly the same meaning.
In China status is important. The clothes you wear, the phone you use and the watch on your wrist are a status symbol. The same doesn’t go for computers though. They have a far greater importance. Families will spend a small fortune on computers (sometimes 2 years worth of salaries) in order to aid in their child’s education and improve their child’s life (something more parents need to prioritise!)
Lenovo’s (then known as Legend) Chinese Character keyboard was actually the precursor for something you use every day. Intuitive text on your smartphone.
One of the inventors at Lenovo who was behind the first home internet PC still rode around campus on his skateboard at 43. Pretty rad but also rather cool considering the strict business behaviour of most of China.
Disclaimer: My trip to China was sponsored by Lenovo. They put me on a plane, in a hotel and fed me.
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