Key edtech players outsmarting rivals

Rising demand for at-home study is opening the door for the country’s intelligent education hardware market, as sales of intelligent education products continue to heat up.

Dali, the education business arm of tech giant ByteDance, recently launched its latest smart lamp T6 series, which aims to help nurture students’ independent learning habits. The latest gadget leverages full-color natural light technology and is able to simulate natural light at any time. Regular two-color lamps can only adjust color temperature.

For instance, T6 can simulate the sunlight spectrum typical at 10 am to ensure that children enjoy full energy during the day and can focus more on learning. At night, it will reduce the effect on the human body to help lead to restful sleep.

“A good edtech product should not just be a tool, but leverage the power of technology and products to help the family and the growth of each child,” said Yang Luyu, founder of intelligent business of Dali.

Intelligent education products like e-dictionary pens, robots, educational tablets and smart lights are becoming increasingly popular with students in China, thanks to their use of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence to find solutions for the vexing problems of students.

Demand is spawning a potential multibillion-dollar global market for companies. According to the Duojing Capital Research Institute, China’s intelligent education hardware market will reach 57 billion yuan ($8.7 billion) in the next two years.

This year, the country’s smart hardware market will enter the trillion-yuan league with an expected sales revenue of 1.08 trillion yuan by the end of the year, said market consultancy iiMedia Research.

“Owing to the potential long-term demand for study at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese students and their parents have higher requirements for learning, especially for more intelligent and personalized solutions,” said Wang Heng, head of Duojing.

“Sales of intelligent education hardware devices have risen sharply as young and affluent parents in China, especially from the middle-income group, are willing to spend more for their children’s technology requirements,” Wang said.

“The country’s education industry has reached a critical stage, where the intelligence level of online education needs to be enhanced further,” said Chen Jing, vice-president of Blue Elephant Capital, an investor in the education technology field.

She said current intelligent hardware has various types of functions. Virtual reality equipment and smart speakers help extend hearing, touch, perception and vision. Other types of devices solve the specific needs of children, such as translators and reading machines.

“Yet another type deals with wearables, which children can use in any kind of scenario, and they are portable and profitable,” she said.

Zhou Feng, CEO of NetEase Youdao, the online education brand of Chinese tech leader NetEase Inc, said intelligent education hardware products are different from the previous generation of learning hardware.

“In the long run, NetEase Youdao is positioned as an intelligent learning company, where users learn partly through online courses and partly through hardware. Intelligent hardware and online products are important and can supplement each other,” Zhou said.

NetEase Youdao launched its latest dictionary pen earlier this year. With an average accuracy of 98.3 percent, the gadget is able to offer a “click and check” experience wherein users can search for a translation instantly with a simple click.

Wang from the Duojing Capital Research Institute said that the supply chain for hardware products is relatively mature and production costs are relatively transparent.

“More efforts are needed from companies to forge innovations in design, research and development, production and sales to differentiate themselves from competition,” he said.

Author: Cheng Yu, China Daily

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