Huawei and Its Sci-Fi Convenience Vision

July 9, 2020

One of the DarkCyber research team spotted what looked like a content marketing, rah rah article called “Huawei’s 1+8+N Strategy Will Be a Big Success in China As It Has No Competitors.”

We talked about the article this morning and dismissed its words as less helpful than most recycled PR. The gem in the write up is this diagram which was tough to read in the original. We poked around and came across a Huawei video which you can view on the Sparrow News Web site.

Here’s a version of the 1+8+N diagram. If you are trying to read the word “sphygmomanometer” means blood pressure gizmo. The term is shorthand for “smart medical devices”.


The idea is that the smartphone is the de facto surveillance device. It provides tags for the device itself and a “phone number” for the device owner. Burner phones registered to smart puppets require extra hoops, and government authorities are going to come calling when the identify of the burner phone’s owner is determined via cross correlation of metadata.

The diagram has three parts, right? Sort of. First, the “plus” sign in the 1+8+N is Huawei itself. Think of Huawei as the Ma Bell, just definitely very cozy with the Chinese government. The “plus” means glue. The glue unites or fuses the data from the little icons.

The focal point of the strategy is the individual.

From the individual, the diagram shows no phone computing devices. There are nine devices identified, but more can be added. These nine devices connected to an individual are all smart; that is, Internet of things, mobile aware, surveillance centric, and related network connected products.

The 1

The “1” refers to the smartphone.

The 8

The eight refers to the smart devices an individual uses. (The smartphone is interacting with these eight devices either directly or indirectly as long as there is battery and electrical power.)

Augmented / virtual reality “glasses”


Personal computers






The connection between and among the devices is enabled by Huawei HiLink or mobile WiFi, although Bluetooth and other wireless technologies are an option.

The N

The N like the math symbol refers to any number of ecologies. An ecology could be a person riding in a vehicle, watching a presentation displayed by a connected projector, a smart printer, a separate but modern smart camera, a Chinese Roomba type robot, a smart scale for weighing a mobile phone owner, a medical device connected or embedded in an individual, a device streaming a video, a video game played on a device or online, a digital map.

These use cases cluster; for example, mobile, smart home, physical health, entertainment, and travel. Other categories can, of course, be added.

Is 1+8+N the 21st Century E=MC^2?

Possibly. What is clear is that Huawei has done a very good job of mapping out the details of the Chinese intelligence and surveillance strategy. By extension, one can view the diagram as one that could be similar to those developed by the governments of Iran, North Korea, Russia, and a number of other nation states.

The smartphone delivers on its potential in the 1+8+N diagram, if the Huawei vision gets traction.


The 1+8+N equation has been around since 2019. Its resurfacing may have more to do with Huawei’s desire to be quite clear about what its phones and other products and services can deliver.

The company uses the phrase “full scene” instead of the American jargon of a 360 degree view.

Neither phrase captures the import of data in multiple dimensions. Tracking and analyzing data through time enables a number of interesting dependent features, services, and functions.

The 1+8+N may be less about math and more about intelligence than some of the write ups about the diagram discuss.

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2020


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