China's best selling smartwatch offers surveillance-as-a-service … for kids

ALSO: Indian space agency completes OneWeb constellation; Singapore warns on AI weapons; AUKUS tech pact advances

Asia In Brief Although Chinese smartwatch shipments declined in 2022, Huawei, Apple and Oppo saw growth. Meanwhile Huawei's smartwatch designed for parents to keep tabs on their kids took the lead as the year's bestseller.

"China's smartwatch shipments fell 9.3 percent year on year in 2022, mainly due to the COVID-zero policy's impact on demand," according to Counterpoint Research. Senior analyst Shenghao Bai explained that curbs on movement and remote education regulations impacted demand for kids' smartwatches in particular.

The market research firm said Huawei's stars benefited from the brand's focus on High Level Operating Systems (HLOS). Perhaps its surveillance function also played its part.

According to Huawei's consumer website, the Huawei Watch Kids 4 Pro allows for high-definition video calling so that one can "see exactly where they are and what they're doing in total detail."

The water-resistant watch also tracks how much time the child has spent outdoors through ambient light and UV sensors. It also encourages them to exercise through its "sports mode."

The watch costs around $150. Chinese smartwatches in the $100 to $200 price range took the greatest market share in both 2021 and 2022. However, growth occurred the most in the high to premium segments. Watches costing $300 to $400 grew 46 percent and those costing more than $400 grew almost a whopping 1300 percent.

Singapore deputy PM wants to set AI combat rules

Governments will have to adapt how they work with private companies as they engage on development of AI, Singapore's deputy prime minister Lawrence Wong said last week.

Speaking at the Fourth Singapore Defence Technology Summit, Wong cited 5G, low Earth orbit satellite communication, cloud computing infrastructure as technologies where the military has benefitted from private investment. And now the list also includes the delivery of lethal force.

Wong referred to AI as one "immediate issue" and potentially a "very powerful weapon" that "can accelerate the future of autonomous warfare, enabling weapons that are more precise, cheaper, faster and, with the capabilities to learn, making their missions virtually unstoppable."

"What is clear is that we cannot leave commercial enterprises to answer these questions alone," said the government official, who called upon governments, industry, and civil society to set necessary standards and guidelines collectively.

India and UK celebrate satellite launch

India's Space Research Organisation has celebrated the sixth consecutive successful launch of its LVM3-M3 rocket, which on Sunday carried 36 satellites into orbit for British satellite broadband company OneWeb.

The launch means OneWeb can deliver on its promise of global satellite coverage. – Simon Sharwood

US bill passed to enable AUKUS tech sharing

The US House of Representatives last week passed reforms of controls related to sharing military technology under the AUKUS agreement with Australia and the UK.

One of the pillars of the AUKUS agreement is cooperation on advanced capabilities such as hypersonics, undersea technologies, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and more.

The legislation requires the State Department to report to Congress on its efforts to achieve such a goal and identify which export controls need to be eased to succeed.

Indian state of Punjab continues internet shutdown

Mobile internet services were shut down last week in the Indian state of Punjab as authorities went on a manhunt for a 30-year old Sikh separatist. As of last Friday, India's Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) tracked internet access in the state as having been fully restored in all but two districts: Firozpur and Tarn Taran.

At the time of writing, the Center's shutdown tracker again reports extensive shutdowns.

The Punjab government extended mobile internet suspension in those districts until noon on Friday "in the interest of public safety, to prevent any incitement to violence and to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order," reported Times of India.

Lenovo and AMD to make bilingual keyboard for te reo Māori

Chinese electronics maker Lenovo and AMD announced a collaboration that would bring characters unique to the te reo Māori – the indigenous language of New Zealand's Māori population – to a keyboard.

"Digital devices in countries with large English-speaking populations often miss out on products with alternate characters for languages. This results in a digital divide for consumers who do not have a viable solution to use technology the way they want to, impacting their daily use of preferred languages," said Lenovo's New Zealand country manager, Libby Macgregor.

NTT plans Bangkok bit barn

NTT last week announced it would build a third datacenter in Thailand.

The $90 million facility, dubbed Bangkok 3 Data Center (BKK3), will offer 12MW and approximately 4,000 m² of capacity when it comes online in the second half of 2024.

The facility can handle 30KW per rack and will be aimed at hyperscalers and enterprises.

– Simon Sharwood

Cross border payment platform Project Nexus completes test

Project Nexus – a multi-country collaboration to develop a centralized platform that eases cross border payments by reducing time to clear transactions – successfully connected test instant payment systems (IPS) of the Eurosystem, Malaysia and Singapore, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The result is that payments can be sent across the three countries using only mobile phone numbers.

"In the next phase, BIS and the central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will jointly work towards connecting their domestic IPS through Nexus," said the MAS.

In other news

Our regional coverage from last week included news that Japan is fairly close to being the first country to land a privately made spacecraft on the Moon after ispace’s Hakuto-R lander completed a lunar orbit insertion maneuver.

Australian FinTech Latitude Financial took itself offline to cope with a cyber attack it is blaming on a vendor who leaked credentials.

Google suspended Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo from its Play store after it found versions that contained malware.

The US Department of Commerce released details of proposed rules that would limit the amount of money CHIPS Act recipients could spend on semiconductor facilities in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Chinese web giant Baidu said it would roll out a cloud service integrated with its AI tool, ERNIE, despite reports that it had some flaws – including experiencing amnesia when asked questions about Xi Jinping, or other controversial topics.

Australian airline Qantas warned pilots that vessels claiming to be Chinese military were interfering with communications on passenger planes.

Hong Kong's battle to have Google search results stop recognizing a protest song as its national anthem continues. The Special Administrative Region has made some improvement through its SEO, but has expressed the desire for Google to do more on its end.

Filipino telco PLDT's overspend of $880 million on a program to transform its core networks, lay plenty of fresh fiber optic links, build submarine cables, and create a 5G network could end up subsidized by Cisco, Huawei and Ericsson.

Japanese tech conglomerate Toshiba announced it will recommend a $15 billion takeover offer to launch in the next ten days.

India released its 6G vision statement.

South Korea fined McDonald's $530,000 for improperly storing the information of over four million users that was eventually hacked.

Slasher flick Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey has mysteriously been cancelled in Hong Kong. For years China has censored the anthropomorphic bear after netizens began to compare him to president Xi Jinping.

Xi held a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin this week at which they declared a technological partnership of sorts on artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, 5G, digital economy, and low-carbon economy.

The compliance rate on India's infosec reporting rules that require incidents be reported in just six hours is fifteen – entities, not percent.

Korean national and wanted fugitive who has declared he is not on the run, Do Kwon, was allegedly found with fake passports by authorities in Montenegro this week. ®

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