Alibaba Tech

Dec 3, 2021

5 min read

Discover the Rising Stars №020 | Interview with Dazhi Li, Founder of XHTime

Alibaba Cloud Innovation Center has introduced a new column, Discover the Rising Stars, to shed light on the backgrounds of entrepreneurs and company innovations. Through interviews, live streams, and other media approaches, we will deliver valuable news stories from multiple perspectives and dimensions, to offer you the real voices of entrepreneurs and to witness the power of technological innovations.

The Value of time is not just to tell us what’s on the clock, more importantly it determines what our action should be in that specific moment. You made an appointment with your client at 10 in the morning, but you didn’t show up until 12, and you could just say goodbye to a million-dollar contract. Time is even more important in the field of industrial internet, every procedure on the product line is perfectly synchronized by time. Some procedures need to be as accurate as to millisecond level and above, one slight error could end with large quantity of wastes.

In this issue of Discover the Rising Stars we interview the Innovative Award winner of the final stage of 2021 China (Xiangtan) Industrial Software Innovative Startup Contest, XHTime’s founder, Dazhi Li, and witness the technical leap brought by Beidou navigation and temporal frequency.

Founded in 2015, XHTime is a high-tech company focusing on Beidou satellite positioning, navigation, and timing. Based on the powerful Beidou Navigation Satellite System, the company has built a comprehensive time-frequency services system combining timekeeping, timing, and various applications. One thing worth noted is that almost the entire core team of the company were veterans.

Its founder, Dazhi Li was enlisted after graduation in 1999, 18 years in services. In 2017, Li rehabilitated and later founded the company. His partner, Yangqi Liu, worked in Beijing Satellite Navigation Center for 16 years. During these years he was involved in the research and development of the Satellite Navigation System of BDS-1 and BDS-2 and the Standard Time-Keeping System. Prior to join XHTime, Liu has been a senior engineer, director of the Time-Frequency lab, recognized as one of the leading figures in the field of BDS (BeiDou System) and Time-Frequency. In the initial four-men founders’ team, three of them graduated from NUDT, two of them had PhD degree, and all of them worked around the BDS, packed with more than sufficient experience.

Li told us: “Ever since BDS is established in 2003, I’ve constantly heard people say that BDS is far not as good as GPS. It’s a misunderstanding, the BDS is well-established, its precision is high, and system is very stable. Its services have been built in the smartphones, IoT devices, and autonomous vehicles, and it serves along with the GPS, even when GPS is down, the BDS is yet fully functioning. The problem with BDS is in the end-use, the applications are not good enough. Therefore we hope to upgrade BDS’ applications with our technology capability.”

Due to that XHTime start off high in tech, the company was quickly recognized in the industry and soon received a wide array of clients.

XHTime has two major business focus, one is around Beidou navigation positioning, and the another is with time-frequency. In the field of Beidou navigation positioning, the company research and develop based on the existing and mature Beidou chips and modules. Multiple terminal applications have been developed for different scenarios, spreading the BDS to the deeper roots of every industry. In the field of time-frequency, the company’s technological superiority is more evident. From time-keeping to timing application products, the company kept fully self-development and independent intellectual property rights.

XHTime’s navigation positioning products are the high precision products based on Beidou ground-based augmentation. Practical application can be found in SGCC, China Telecom, China Railway, and CNOOC. For example, the tower-monitoring device for SGCC and China Telecom. From the two company’s emergency disaster monitoring platform we can see the real-time tilting and settlement data from every tower. In another case, XHTime’s oilfield dangerous goods monitoring terminal is also well-performed in the drilling platform over the Bohai Bay and on the oil carriers.

Onto time-frequency, now that many fields have adopted XHTime’s common-view timing device to meet the demand for multi-site, long baseline time synchronization. That including Beijing Institute of Metrology, where they use the device for traceability. The company’s multi-channel time interval counter has been set up in the BDS-3 outer station. What’s more, the company’s multi-channel apparatus has been a reliable testing equipment in China Institute of Metrology.

XHTime is also keen on autonomous driving. “Navigation above lane-level is essential to realize autonomous driving, that is exactly what Beidou capable of. The market is sure to be growing fast.” And yet another good news comes along that with the rapid growth of Beidou applications, the average cost will see a large decrease, and this will be an important booster for its industry.

Four years of development has witnessed XHTime’s business volume doubling itself each year, with merely 3 million CNY in 2017, then 9 million by 2018, and 20 million till 2020. By August of 2021, the company’s total contract amount has surpassed 30 million CNY, now aiming for 50 for the whole year.

According to Li: “We cooperated with Alibaba Cloud in the past, in application development. Through this contest that held by Alibaba Cloud Innovation Center, I believe that XHTime has further the understanding in the field of Industrial Internet, which is beneficial for us to match our product best suit the customer needs. And we can find a better point of convergence with the industrial internet.”

Talking about the company name, Li said that “XH” stands for a Chinese word“星汉(Xing Han)” that originated in famous statesman and poet’s work, The Sea, where “Xing Han” interprets the Milky Way.