SenseTime plans to expand AI applications into auto, medical, smartphone, smart city industries
“We are not a surveillance company,” Wang said in an interview with Nikkei. “We want to become an AI platform that empowers different businesses.” He also noted that it will take significant research and development to apply the technology in cars, where it can be used for unlocking rental cars and monitoring drivers, in addition to driverless cars.
SenseTime has now partnered with at least 700 organizations, including Huawei, Xiaomi, and Qualcomm, and turned profitable last year. It has also raised roughly $1.6 billion in funding, including a recent commitment from SoftBank Vision Fund, and is valuated at over $4.5 billion.
Wang said the company’s large talent pool, which includes some 650 researchers, 800 engineers, and 150 employees with doctorates, is one of its core strengths. SenseTime also has strong infrastructure for AI research, and a unique system able to train its AI with data beyond publicly available information.
China is working to implement smart city technology in 40 or more areas, and though Wang says it will take at least 50 more years to develop the functions of AI, society will gradually accept it as benefits such as lower crime are demonstrated.
SenseTime was recently reported to be bidding, along with Yitu, on a facial recognition contract for a new $12 billion airport being built in Beijing.