Hot market seen for biometrics and temperature scanning after Shanghai lockdown
As China pursues the ‘zero Covid’ strategy that locked down Shanghai for two months, analysts quoted by the South China Morning Post say there is a great appetite for biometric cameras that detect signs of infection.
The newspaper cites a report from brokerage Everbright Securities that suggests as many as 2 million devices for detecting infections and confirming test results and vaccination status could be placed in public venues like hospitals, shopping centers, office buildings and entertainment venues in the coming weeks.
Everbright anticipates a 50 billion-yuan (US$7.5 billion) market to emerge, an opportunity for vendors of face biometrics and surveillance systems like SenseTime, Dahua and Hikvision to fill in the void. Another player is Telpo, which makes a facial recognition terminal for multi-person temperature checks to find signs of fever, which is sometimes a symptom of Covid.
The so-called digital sentry biometric devices would primarily employ facial recognition to determine a person’s vaccination status, Covid test results and recent movements before granting access to public venues. Everbright says the price per device would range from 2,000 yuan (about US$300) to 10,000 yuan (about US$1,500).
The Morning Post quotes Wang Feng, chairman of Shanghai-based financial services group Ye Lang Capital, saying, “The market potential here cannot be matched anywhere else in the world, because these smart devices will be widely used in big cities to meet stringent virus control rules. Operators of shopping malls and cinemas will buy the machines to improve efficiency of their verification processes.”
It may be a boon for China’s biometrics industry, which has faced setbacks in recent months. An investigative report from Caixin Global in November 2021 found that four of China’s biometrics unicorns have struggled to meet market expectations. One of those was SenseTime, which disappointed investors when its potentially $2 billion initial public offering launched at half that amount, though it did see a small spike in post-IPO results shortly after.