Chinese tourists embrace smart tech

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People visit the Baidu Brain pavilion during Baidu Create 2018 in Beijing. Xinhua

BEIJING (Xinhua) – Tourists in Shanghai can now have their faces scanned to hop on and off sightseeing buses, China Daily reported yesterday.

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The first batch of smart double-decker buses supported by Baidu Brain, the artificial intelligence (AI) platform of technology giant Baidu, took to the city’s streets in December.

When buying tickets on their mobiles, passengers’ faces are scanned and verified by the phone’s camera in a process that only takes about one to two seconds.

Although they may not be that popular with foreign travellers yet, portable translation devices are now must-have companions for an increasing number of Chinese tourists, as they can help them overcome language barriers when they are abroad.

During last year’s Nov 11 Singles Day shopping festival, the JoneR Pro, priced at 2,999 yuan ($443), ranked second in the pocket translator category on e-commerce platform JD.com and Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall, according to China Daily.

Developed by Beijing Babel Technology Co in collaboration with Tsinghua University, the JoneR Pro supports two-way voice translation of 53 languages. Similar in size to a smartphone, it can translate text from photos and provide Wi-Fi access and an audio guide service for more than 1,200 popular travel destinations in 50-plus countries.

Li Yunpeng, director of the Tourism Internet Plus Institute at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, said commercialisation of the fifth generation, or 5G, mobile communications technology-targeted by the central government for next year-will further stimulate the growth of tourism technology.

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