Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware

  • Title: Future Cities - Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware
  • Country of Origin: United Kingdom
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: July 2016
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Director: Jim Demuth (United Kingdom)
  • Available on: YouTube
  • Recommendation by Ian Magnuson

Wired, the monthly technology magazine, is slowly releasing a series of documentaries on the cities of the future. Normally when we think of cities of the future, we think of flying cars, hyperloops, etc. etc. but the goal of Wired’s series is to show that some of the world’s upcoming great leaps in technology come from areas outside of Silicon Valley. Perfectly titled, Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware covers the rapid advances in hardware development in a rather new Chinese megalopolis. This is the city of the notorious Foxconn facility and many of the locals interviewed are trying to change the global perception of their city. It’s up to you to decide if they succeed. Additionally, many of the developers interviewed are westerners who have relocated to China in order to be close to the part suppliers for their wonder gadgets.

There's even a word for their... broad definition of intellectual property.

There's even a word for their... broad definition of intellectual property.

The side story explored touches on a different cultural view of intellectual property rights. In Silicon Valley, both the area and the television show, we often see a major barrier to innovation is the legal nightmare that is the U.S. court system. In China, it has become expected that one’s inventions will quickly be copied, or “stolen” as we Americans might see it, and you, the inventor, are supposed to roll with it and further iterate on someone else’s design.

There’s also a great aspect that covers the meteoric rise of Shenzhen both in terms of population and prosperity. They interview local people on the national politics that led to its rise. There’s also some special time devoted to the more traditional village enclaves built into the greater cityscape and how the developments are both benefiting and threatening their existence.

Linked above, the Future Cities project is sure to appear on Backyard Global again as they are currently releasing their next “issue” piecemeal and it is about Israel and the Gaza Strip as a source of software innovation! Check it out on YouTube for free today!