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Face and voice biometrics providers in China boosted by AI market growth, Megvii works on robot network

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Face and voice biometrics providers in China boosted by AI market growth, Megvii works on robot network

With $2.89 billion registered in 2019, IDC reports the AI software and application market in China is forecast to grow to $12.75 billion by 2024 at a compound annual growth rate of 39.9 percent, led by several biometrics providers, writes government-owned China Daily.

To date, there are already 100 Chinese companies involved in developing and researching AI projects, and dozens focused on intelligent construction, with yet more opportunities in the future. The computer vision market reached $1.46 billion in 2019, seeing most growth due to the interest in security and the “Cyber Brain of City” projects. Growing demand has been noticed for biometric facial recognition systems implemented in public places following the coronavirus pandemic.

The leader in the computer vision market is SenseTime with some 20 percent of market share, with Megvii, Cloudwalk and Yitu Tech close behind.

The voice and semantics application market registered $1.22 billion in 2019, due to a growing interest in smart home electronics. The highest market share was gained by voice biometrics tech developer iFlytek. Ali Cloud and Baidu also registered significant growth compared to 2018. While machine learning was a hot topic in 2019, there are still not many applications in this field due to a deficiency in talent and resources.

According to Lu Yanxia, associate research director for IDC China’s Emerging Technology Research, infrastructure projects and novel coronavirus mitigation have sped up AI innovation and digital market disruption. Companies interested in gaining more market share should focus on developing AI applications for wider deployment.

Megvii expands computer vision from biometrics to IoT, robotics

For Megvii, it all started back in 2011 when it was a project started by computer science graduates from Tsinghua University. The company rose to fame when it defeated Google, Microsoft and Facebook in the COCO image-recognition competition, writes Kr-Asia.

Megvii’s initial focus was on biometric facial recognition, but slowly graduated to building IoT ecosystems for different industries. As the company prepares for international expansion, it already boasts a large customer portfolio which includes giants such as Ant Financial, Didi Chuxing, and Xiaomi.

However, plans were slightly derailed after Megvii, SenseTime and Yitu were included on a U.S. government blacklist for alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Megvii has raised a total funding of $1.4 billion, and the founders still have control over 17 percent of shares and most voting rights.

In 2018, MIT Technology Review included Yin Qi on its annual list of Innovators under 35. After graduation from Tsinghua University, Yin Qi, Megvii’s CEO, reached out to fellow classmates Tang Wenbin and Yang Mu to start a business together. With a passion for deep learning, Megvii CTO Tang Wenbin received the “Yao Award” in 2009 and has brought the company 22 titles in international artificial intelligence.

Megvii’s future plans include leveraging computer vision-enabled IoT products to develop Hetu, a smart ecosystem of connect devices that would operate a robot network to optimize supply chains, manufacturing and urban management technology. The system is currently tested with multiple warehouse management system companies.

To drive AI innovation, Megvii has open-sourced its deep learning software, part of the AI platform Brain++.

At the 2019 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, Megvii received an award for World’s Leading Scientific and Technological Achievements.

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