User Tools

Site Tools


China and open tech

The picture the words China and technology evoke in the west is not so favorable. We see China as a country using some technology to achieve the Party's policy goals. Face recognition to check who crosses at red light, location technology to keep an eye on the Uygur people, a social credit system to ensure that all citizens remain obedient and on top of that artificial intelligence to realize a kind of cyberpanopticum.

China and open source

But China is much more than the state. China has state-controlled technology on the one hand and a huge amount of small technology companies that live in a completely different world on the other. Shenzhen has long since ceased to be the Silicon Valley of China, it is beyond Silicon Valley. Shenzhen has become the center of the world in technology development. A community of companies that are each other's suppliers has developed. These small companies do not embrace the vision of the state, but that of the internet. They build their devices based on open source. The hippest open source technology now comes from China, especially from Shenzhen and Shanghai. It is an interesting mix of international open source ideas and software with Chinese produced hardware.

RAK wireless

Rak Wireless is specialized in long distance communication technology for the internet of things. They create gateways, nodes and interface to send messages via lora. They support TheThingsNetwork, a lora company from Amsterdam that has set up an open network of lora gateways. With their servers they support a network of lora gateways. The gateways are purchased and managed by third parties, companies and citizens who are enthusiastic about the possibilities of lora. Rak Wireless offers gateways and nodes that work with Raspberry Pi computers and Arduino internet of things microcontrollers.Code and examples on github.


Espressif Systems from Shanghai is a chipmaker specializing in chips for the Internet of Things. Their ESP8266 and ESP32 chips offer more than interfacing with sensors, they also offer Wifi functions and a TCP / IP stack. If you use an Espressif chip as a microcontroller, it can talk to sensors and share information about the internet. You can make Arduino applications that read sensors and offer the measurement results via a website or forward them to a server on the internet. You can program a complete webserver in your Arduino sketch. And that makes the internet of things really fun for the self-building geek. My home domotics server click runs on an ESP8266 from Espressif. Code and examples on github.

Seeed studio

Sipeed is a brand of Seeed Studio, perhaps the hippest of the companies. Sipeed makes a kind of Raspberry Pi competitor for developers. And they produce a number of products with Risc-V processors. Risc-V is an open source chip design. Their latest gadget is a Risc-V processor on a plate with a camera, microphone and screen, the Maix Go. Because the Maix runs micropython and supports tensorflow, you can build machine learning applications on a board smaller than your smartphone. You can find some examples for the Maix Go on github. In addition, the facial recognizer in action. Examples can of coure be found on bithub

In open source technology, Western ideas and Chinese hardware complement each other. Chips that run websites and gadgets of a few tens that run micropython and tensorflow. As befits open source, all code and documentation can be found on the net, especially on github. The documentation is not always easy to read, but it is worthwhile to get started with these chips and boards.

en/digitaal/open_china.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/11 14:39 by