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14 | reality engineering TAO BAO AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS There are thousands of electric-powered delivery vehicles in Beijing, adding another hazard to a walk across the street. These one-man bicycle-cum-carts are piloted by intense men (and a few women) delivering everything an urban population desires: perfume, pullovers, pillows and pizza. Ad hoc delivery zones have popped up around apartments and office buildings. T he explosion of these delivery services, coupled with the growth of online mega-retailer “Tao Bao,” is another manifestation of the pervasive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Nowhere is this more evident than in metropolitan China where connectedness has re-shaped modern life. BEIJING, CHINA “DiDi ate Uber,” LiHua said, looking down and scrolling on her phone. 1 extra legroom, having just spent the last 14 hours squeezed into an aluminum tube. We reached our destination and my friend tapped her phone to pay the driver; the ride from the airport cost 80 RMB, about 12 bucks. Through car-hiring services like DiDi and Wechat, China’s economy is quickly becoming cashless, a manifestation of the growth of the Internet of Things or “IoT.” “Really?” I asked. “When?” “A few months ago. Imagine that only a few years before, there was no DiDi. Now it’s the biggest car service company in China.” “Wow. That’s amazing. Did you call our car?” “Yes,” she answered, brushing aside her hair as she stepped towards the curb and peered into the oncoming traffic. “A black Honda, license number ends with ZQ4. I asked for a bigger car because American friends are bigger.” “Hah!” I replied. “Very funny.” The car arrived, a Honda Pilot, and we climbed in. I was, in fact, grateful for the bigger vehicle and IoT at Work