Global Sources Exhibitions

Drones, robots and a 'Back to the Future'-esque balance-board lead China's hi-tech charge at Hong Kong Global Sources show

A robot arm to serve you coffee and Back to the Future hoverboard inspired balance board among the new innovations revealed at Hong Kong’s mobile electronics show.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 October, 2015, 11:46am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 1:18pm

They may not be the hoverboard that Marty McFly promised we'd all be riding by this year in Back To The Future Part II, but they may well be the next best thing.

A series of one- and two-wheeled balance boards - with some models costing as little as US$200 - are among the latest hi-tech devices on display at the world's largest mobile electronics sourcing show, which opened in Hong Kong yesterday.

The Global Sources exhibition at AsiaWorld-Expo runs until Wednesday and hosts 2,300 booths featuring products from around the world.

Watch: Robot that can serve you coffee featured in Hong Kong electronics show

Apart from balance boards and the ubiquitous smartphones, start-ups, drones and robots are the stars of the show and feature dedicated pavilions.

Demand for hi-tech products such as drones and robots is soaring. Global Sources estimates worldwide revenue for drones will hit US$1.27 billion by 2020.

The 20 drone suppliers at the show offer a wide range of flying machines, from US$200 models that can shoot steady high-definition video to environmentally friendly drones with solar panels.

The event also features an industry-first dedicated pavilion for 38 start-up companies.

"The buyers are not just looking for products but also new designs and innovations," Global Sources CEO Spenser Au said.

More than 60 per cent of the suppliers on show are manufacturing and technology companies from Shenzhen. In all, 80 per cent are from China.

While Chinese manufacturing is facing challenges from neighbouring countries as labour costs rise and competition intensifies, the Global Sources show is still growing.

"To some extent, we are not matching the trend," Au said.

He said Chinese suppliers were moving up the value chain, with better infrastructure supporting more hi-tech products. While low-end manufacturers were leaving, "the hi-tech players will stay", he said.

Au said Global Sources was this year forced to split its show into two phases, with the mobile electronics show following its earlier home electronics show.

The mobile electronics show has doubled in size from last year and has 5,800 booths, an increase of 600. Both shows together will attract an estimated 50,000 buyers from around the world.

The Global Sources mobile electronics show runs until October 21 at AsiaWorld-Expo near Hong Kong international airport.