China’s Big Brother camera network complete, computer vision growth to come from business

China’s Big Brother camera network complete, computer vision growth to come from business

In news that will be hard for some to believe, China’s domestic government market for computer vision is saturated, according to a new report.

Essentially, the developed world is still in an early stage of computer vision deployment, and China has to hunt for new domestic markets.

It is a sobering development not for the fact that the West continues to debate the ethics and merits of digital surveillance and public face biometrics. China’s authoritarian surveillance model is reason enough to avoid rushing things, even in troubled democracies like the United States.

More amazing is that a population of 1.4 billion is surveilled — not in segments, demographics or regions, but in total.

Of course, China continues to enjoy robust sales of its machine vision products to governments around the world. Virtually all of them are still many years away from seeing anything like saturation.

The South China Morning Post, in Hong Kong, has published a 130-page report on the topic that finds the Chinese government is going after five sectors that either are relatively new to machine vision or still have room to grow. The markets are security, health care, autonomous vehicles, finance and retail and marketing.

While the government might be full up, quasi-private businesses are not, according to the Morning Post. It finds that the penetration rate in that sector remains low.

Regulation liberalization in health care has made computer vision in that sector a promising idea.

The paper’s reporters also found that finance is opening to the technology, in this case primarily for object recognition.

Retail and marketing executives are turning to machine vision, primarily as a way of shaving costs. The Morning Post says that sales growth has plateaued and productivity is flagging. The technology is being pitched as a way to better study consumers and help them check out without assistance.

The one area that cannot exist without machine vision, robotic vehicles, is the fifth target. Of course, the growth of vision systems in vehicles cannot exceed the growth of vehicles themselves, and that market is proving far harder to crack than even the centrally controlled economy can manage.

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