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It’s another regular day at work and as employees start trickling into office, the usual flurry of ID card hunting and swiping it at the entrance is given a miss. Instead, the glass door rhythmically slides open after a hidden camera confirms the staffer’s identity through facial recognition. Sounds like an extract from a science fiction novel? Instead, it’s just another day at SenseTime, and their employee tracking system is a portrayal of how the company plans to shape the future of interactions. They envision a world devoid of physical IDs, credit cards, or boarding passes, but one that runs on image, text, and object recognition, intelligent video analytics, and remote sensing.
Founded in 2014 in Hong Kong, SenseTime has risen through the ranks to be recognized as the nation’s most valuable AI startup in a short time. To substantiate with numbers, the company has one of the highest valuations in the industry (more than 4.5 billion), and is the high-tech unicorn that the entire business world and federal agencies alike have their eyes on. We are talking about giants such as Alibaba, MIT, and Qualcomm as well as the Shanghai government and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, who have all signed a strategic alliance agreement with SenseTime.
“SenseTime has established an AI ecosystem anchored with robust research, deep industry collaboration, and diverse partnerships”
The company is making waves for its deep learning technologies, computer vision, and supercomputing centers, which makes them China’s largest AI algorithm provider today. Behind this next-gen AI company is Xu Li, the CEO, a computer scientist, and an expert in machine vision who has propelled the company to the forefront in the AI domain. What initially began as an academic project is the talk of the town with over 700 customers, and a footprint across Asia in Tokyo, Singapore, and China. Talking about their strong foothold Li remarks, “SenseTime has established an AI ecosystem anchored with robust research, deep industry collaboration, and diverse partnerships.”
Advancing the Connection between Man and Machine
To get down to the specifics, SenseTime’s facial tracking and recognition technology for smartphones as well as computers can detect faces within milliseconds.
Given the alarming rise in identity heists and digital impersonations, SenseTime also serves as a security measure when it comes to user compliance and fraud in facial identification. Through a feature called "liveness detection," the solution can identify whether the image before a camera is a real person or an image manipulation. It can effectively differentiate between high-definition photos, photoshopped images, 3D models, face swaps, and other attempts made to bypass the system. Above all, what stands out is that SenseTime ensures an accuracy rate of 96 percent, with an error rate of less than 0.001 percent.
What stands out is that SenseTime ensures an accuracy rate of 96 percent in image recognition, with an error rate of less than 0.001 percent
In addition, particularly for organizations seeking business intelligence solutions, the company has devised SenseGo, based on computer vision technology, which can extract a range of consumer information from video data and carry out statistical analysis of consumer’s behaviors. This provides various businesses such as large shopping malls, supermarkets, high-end cafes, and advertising agencies with big data for detailed operational analysis on customer flow and more, enabling more informed decision-making. The straight up benefits of SenseTime was witnessed by one of China’s largest retail chain, Suning. The company is now working with SenseTime to jointly explore the application of face identification in unmanned shopping, membership management, and payment verification.
Another unique product offered by the company is SenseRemote that interprets remote sensing data and enhances the automated processing and analysis procedure. What explains for itself is the fact that today the China Meteorological Administration and the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping, and Geoinformation both capitalize on SenseRemote to improve the accuracy of meteorological satellite detection. The company has also developed a model of information extraction from roads, waters, clouds, snow, and other meteorological and environmental elements. Not only does this model accurately extract information but also greatly improves the automation level of information extraction from satellite data of typical land cover elements.
Taking AI to New Heights
The SenseTime team firmly believes that AI will open doors to a new world and redefine the connection between man and machine. All its endeavors are directed at achieving this vision, and it comes as no surprise that SenseTime is receiving favorable grants from both governments and equity investors. Last year the company raised a funding valued at $600 million and witnessed a 400 percent growth.
SenseTime is doing its bit to not only elevate the business world but also promote an interest in R&D and education around AI. Recently, they launched a new collaboration on artificial intelligence (AI) education with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Faculty of Engineering. Top-tier scholars at CUHK can now benefit greatly from this partnership as it focuses on honing a new generation of AI talent. The two parties will be found engaging in several educational activities which involve improving the literacy level around AI, the ethical use of AI, as well as the limitations and risks surrounding it.
Going forward, the company envisions fueling multiple industries with its AI applications. Their long term goal is to put its image recognition technology at the core of every system. Led by this goal, SenseTime has its eyes on over 18 industries, some of them being autonomous driving and healthcare. The AI industry is all set to grow 42x from 2016 to over $170 billion in 2025. Given the current pace of development, one thing is incontestable—SenseTime is the go-to solutions provider in the AI domain, owing to their matchless technology and growing industry experience.
Sensetime Establishes "AI Autonomous Driving Park" in Japan
Hong Kong: SenseTime has recently unveiled its own dedicated testing course “AI Autonomous Driving Park” in Japanese city of Joso in Ibaraki Prefecture. The testing course will be utilized solely by the company to develop autonomous driving technology and conduct road tests of autonomous vehicles, fostering the development of smart car industry.
Joso, where the “AI Autonomous Driving Park” is situated, is a historic city located in the southwestern part of Ibaraki Prefecture and around 50km away from Tokyo. It lies at a favourable location near Tsukuba Science City, the most prestigious scientific research center in Japan. The “AI Autonomous Driving Park” was previously a city-owned driving academy. After a revamp, it becomes a driving academy for AI. SenseTime would also take this testing course as an R&D center for the development of various smart-driving technologies. In addition, the facility will be open to the public, in which local residents can witness and experience the most advanced autonomous driving technologies.
On December 26, 2018, Mr. Takeshi Kandatsu, Mayor of Joso, visited “AI Autonomous Driving Park” and watched SenseTime’s presentation on autonomous driving technology as well as the test drive on the testing course.
Mayor Kandatsu said, “SenseTime possesses top level ICT technology in the world. We are glad to have the company setting up an R&D center for autonomous driving in our city. I believe autonomous driving vehicles will bring not only revolutionary changes to our traffic system, but also solutions to regional traffic problems. With the help of SenseTime, I look forward to seeing autonomous cars running on the roads of Joso. We will give full support to make it happen.”
Mr. Shihong Lao, CEO of SenseTime Japan and General Manager of Automobile Business Division, said, “SenseTime will make best use of the testing course to develop autonomous driving technology. We will also deepen our cooperation with the community to create employment opportunities and make contributions to the society through technology innovations.”
In 2017, SenseTime signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Honda to jointly develop L4 autonomous driving technology. Over the past years, test vehicles equipped with SenseTime’s autonomous driving technology have undergone road tests in Japan and China. According to the plan, SenseTime will cooperate with Honda to mass-produce autonomous driving cars that can hit the road in 2025.