Chinese tech firms pitch blockchain paint to goose facial recognition in April Fool's Day gags

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 April, 2018, 5:21pm

Fake news is officially allowed on one day of the year: April 1 – April Fool’s Day. 

Western tech firms are known to have fun with it, especially search giant Google, which this year adopted a “Where’s Waldo?” gag for Google Maps users. US carrier T-Mobile came out with a fictitious video ad for a “smartshoephone.” “From your favourite flip phone to the world’s first foot phone,” the fake ad said. 

Chinese technology firms also got into the spirit. Here are five of the best – the first three were verified by the companies as jokes, while the last two were reported to be April Fool’s jokes by local media.

1. Ant Financial

Alibaba Group’s payment affiliate and operator of Alipay, announced Block 7 – the world’s first blockchain paint. Vehicles painted with Block 7 become instantly interconnected with multi-level encryption and decentralised data input.

In the event of road accidents, the technology can replicate the scene immediately by acquiring all the information captured by sensors linked to the blockchain, to prevent fraudsters from claiming compensation as fake victims.

“The technology drew big attention last year but has little commercial application,” said Zhang Hui, the scientist in charge of Ant Financial’s lab. 

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

2. Tencent Holdings 

Tencent said it would open a goose farm this year with plans to add penguins and swans in the future. The farm would be located in the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou, where Apple operates its iCloud business in China. “In the initial stages, we will bring in 5,000 geese and will expand the scale to 200,000 gradually,” the company said.

The farm would be equipped with goose face recognition technology, which can improve feeding efficiency. “It is a challenge to develop goose face recognition … but compared with human beings, cosmetic surgery is not as popular among geese so there is less interference in goose face recognition technology development,” Tencent said.

3. Baidu

China’s largest search engine and a leader in artificial intelligence, Baidu announced it would apply facial recognition technology to animals, starting with dogs. The technology would allow dogs to scan their faces to open doors by themselves, and assist them in fetching food. When the dogs go shopping without their owners, they can use face-scanning technology to process the payment. 

Baidu said that in the future animal facial recognition would  be applied to more situations, such as searching for lost pets and protecting rare animals. 


China’s second largest e-commerce player said it launched a set of virtual reality glasses targeting unmarried men so they can understand more about the women they are dating. 

With the glasses, men can recognise a woman’s emotions based on her facial expression as well as from the brands and prices of clothes and cosmetics they use. The accuracy rate of the glasses has reached 61.8 per cent, the company said. 

The glasses also make gift selection a breeze, said product manager Leonard, who declined to give his full name. “When your girlfriend says someone’s scarf is beautiful, the glasses will automatically search for the product on the platform and make the purchase immediately,” he added. 

5. Zhihu

The question-and-answer platform, known as China’s Quora, said it launched an app called Zhihu Zhiying which can recommend a movie to watch based on the user’s appearance. 

After uploading a selfie, the program will choose the film title and provide the reasons for the selection.  

The app is not entirely a joke for Zhihu, which has a habit of  introducing seemingly far-fetched products on April Fool’s Day without saying if they are a gag or not – some of them have actually made it to the market in the past.