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Taiwan: The Tech Superpower ?

With the stake Taiwan enjoys in global trade, it stands out as the undisputed leader in terms of production, cost effectiveness and market delivery capabilities. This year, we visited three trade exhibitions in Taiwan hosted by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the foremost non-profit trade promotion organization in Taiwan.

TAITRA has been organizing similar exhibitions to boost trade for more than three decades promoting Taiwanese companies that cut across various industrial sectors from televisions, audio/ video, lighting, security to electronics components. Taiwan is the world leader in terms of global market share for chip resistors, WLAN NIC and IP phones; and number two in LED manufacturing, IC substrates and PCBs. This hints at a simple fact - you can't ignore Taiwan!

The three exhibitions co-located at the TWTC Nangang Exhibition Hall, Nangang District, Taipei, Taiwan - Taitronics, Taiwan RFID and Broadband Taiwan were aimed at the Electronics, Security, and Broadband and Internet Service industries, respectively. The Vice President of Taiwan, Vincent Siew, also known as the people's premier graced the event, and along with several other prominent government personnel inaugurated the event. Among the most significant announcements was that according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2010 of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland, Taiwan ranks sixth in the world and second in Asia for its competitiveness in green technologies.

Vice President of Taiwan, Vincent Siew, briefed by Everlight's Stephan Greiner

Go green

We were pleased to see green technologies being promoted by the Taiwanese government. We believe we need a similar boost in our country in order to witness a boost in the penetration of technologies such as LED lighting and fuel cells in organizations. According to Min-Hsien Lin, General Manager, Fuel Cell Research Divison, Tatung System Technologies Inc., "Yes, compared to the millions of dollars being quoted by American and European companies for fuel cells, Taiwan's Tatung has products that meet International quality expectations at much lower costs. In fact our technologies are also safe on the environment. We also have activities dedicated to harnessing our planet."

W S Lin, Chairman and President, Tatung Co. spoke to us and told us how excited they were about the prospects in the future. As the head of a much respected and well known business house (a Tata of sorts), Lin expressed optimism towards the future. If you've not heard of Tatung before, you'd be surprised to know that you're probably using their products already. Several trusted brands (featured in our Icons of Trust) source their products from Tatung (picture tubes, LCD, LED panels and semiconductors).

The LED industry, too, is receiving the much needed fillip due to the thrust on greener technologies and is now worth over NT$60 billion. We spoke to several companies dealing with LED lighting solutions; Stephan Greiner, Vice President, Global Sales of Everlight Electronics Co. Ltd. was forthright in the advantages of sourcing components from Taiwan. He was excited too at the high quality standards of Taiwanese products when compared to other low cost models. He reiterated the sentiment shared by many we met in Taiwan, "the quality of products in Taiwan is superior at low prices." In fact, Everlight has used Taiwanese designs for one of the lamps it plans to introduce in the market. The leaning towards LEDs was evident all across the event, and in a country that has a controlling stake in global affairs, whether you are talking about lighting or green technologies, it won't be long before you mention Taiwan.

Smart tags

RF identification is also, a rather underutilized technology in India, again something we need to learn from Taiwan. When we drive through our highways, and stop over at toll checkpoints, it reminds us of our time spent in Taiwan, where unmanned toll booths would directly transact with your vehicle as you drive through without any need to decelerate, leave alone stop your vehicle. In fact even the retail industry depends on RFID tagging to track goods being sold, and managing inventory.

Each visitor was tagged, making use of technologies showcased at the event

We don't see that happening in the stores around us. Who says foreign investment is bad for the Indian retail industry? What would we prefer, a few individuals growing richer by the day or increased transparency?

Security measures

Moving over RFID, Mifare and newer technologies are now finding their way in to the industry. Several Taiwanese companies, including Soyal Technology Co. Ltd., showed us their latest range of security products. These include locks, safes and also fingerprint and finger-vein scanning devices. Similar to fingerprints, latest security devices now use finger-vein patterns to draw a unique pattern for each user registered with the system. The chances of forging and duplicating finger-vein patterns are much lower than fingerprints.


The number of available products were enormous. We saw paper thin LEDs sewn to bags that you could fix on your bicycles. Although road rules aren't as stringent in India, the world over cyclists need to have a light indicating they are stopping. With inventions such as these, cyclists don't even have to do any fixing or fitting with their bicycles. We saw camera set-ups that capture vivid color images even in extreme dark conditions; and even found intelligent power meters that cater to prepaid energy distribution networks.

Another new product being promoted was the MEMS microphone. MEMS stands for Micro Electrical-Mechanical System. These kinds of microphones are miniscule and are etched directly on to silicon chips. Another area we were pleased to explore was Web TV Richard Chen, Product Marketing Manager for Webia Technologies gave us a demo of an effective alternative to Google TV A box, much cheaper than $100 running on Android would guide you through TV, email, chat, games and more. We're waiting for them to be sold in India. As for IPTV, they still haven't made a mark in India.

The Indian market

When we asked for their opinion on the Indian prospects, nearly everyone agreed to India being a "low cost" and "price critical" market. It's a perception globally that we tend to focus on products that are cheap, rather than emphasize on quality. Sad, really. We're looking forward to the day when consumers in India are considered discerning and choosy, rather than bargain hunters. It was comforting, however, when most of the companies said they were watching India closely...