Meet The World’s Most Valuable AI Startup: China’s SenseTime
2 July 2021
In just four years, SenseTime went from being an academic project to become the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) company with a current valuation of $4.5 billion. Based in China, the company has a portfolio of 700 clients and partners, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Qualcomm, Honda, Alibaba, Weibo, and more. They use their proprietary artificial intelligence and machine vision technology to drive its success and “redefine human life as we know it.” With the number of core technologies, products, and services SenseTime offers, it’s hard to believe it’s such a young company. Here are just a few ways SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to “power the future.”
SenseTime’s Core Technologies
SenseTime developed several AI technologies including face, image, object and text recognition; medical image and video analysis; remote sensing; and autonomous driving systems. These AI technologies have been deployed in a variety of industries from healthcare to finance, online entertainment to education, retail to security, smart cities to smartphones, and more. They also created a deep learning platform. SenseTime is now the largest algorithm provider in China, as well as the fifth largest AI platform. Along with other tech titans, SenseTime is working with the Chinese government on Made in China 2025, an initiative to make the country economically autonomous.
One of the reasons SenseTime has been able to grow so successful so quickly is that it has government support and direct access to China’s vast databases regarding its 1.4 billion residents. The more data algorithms are given, the better they become. And, with plans to triple its revenue to $300 million in the coming year by putting its technology as the foundation of image recognition everywhere, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of this growth slowing.
Conventional wisdom in the AI community is that while Europe and the United States might be better at developing AI breakthroughs, China uses and improves AI thanks to the data generated by its enormous population. This had led to some concern about an “AI arms race” and how to manage ethics and privacy considerations among governments and cultures that see these issues very differently. In one example, there are concerns that algorithms using facial recognition technology are being used for racial profiling and to track the actions of a Muslim minority group in China. This is something that human rights groups are watching very closely.
Applications of SenseTime Technologies
Since we’re talking about a Chinese company with facial recognition technology (called DeepID), you won’t be surprised that a core focus for SenseTime is security. You get a sense for what’s behind the screen when you visit the company’s Beijing office lobby and see employees gain access after a camera scans their face and cheques it against company records. There’s also a panel at the entrance with a built-in camera that can analyse your face and even assign an “attractiveness rating.”
In terms of security, several police departments use SenseTime’s SenseTotem and SenseFace systems to analyse video footage to catch criminals. In addition to providing an additional layer of security for drivers and passengers of ride-hailing apps, its technology can sense the driver’s motions and can identify if they might be falling asleep behind the wheel or not looking at the road for an unsafe time period. SenseTime can impact public safety in another way by tracking car plates, support traffic management, and to recognise when there is a traffic incident and alert authorities.
Meitu, makers of a selfie app that’s very popular in China, uses SenseTime tech to allow users to modify their appearance to make selfies more attractive or funny. Similar types of modifications can be done through smartphone cameras and live-streaming apps—which means you may never know what’s “real” when watching a live stream.
When SenseTime opened a smart health lab in the United States in the state of New Jersey, it marked the company’s foray into using AI in healthcare for diagnosis and medical treatment. Through the company’s SenseCare Smart Health Platform, medical professionals get the support of artificial intelligence to review diagnostic information, plan surgeries, and follow-up management.
In addition to an agreement with Japanese car manufacturer Honda to propel autonomous driving technology, SenseTime opened up a self-driving research facility in Japan. The goal is to have driverless passenger cars on the country’s public roads by the 2020 Olympics. The company is actively exploring new technologies to revolutionise travel—on the ground and in the air.
In another partnership, SenseTime joined forces with G3 Global in Malaysia to collaborate on AI projects and solutions, build a $1 billion AI park and to forge other strategic partnerships to build up the AI industry in the country.
If the last four years are any indication, SenseTime will be one to watch as they develop new products, services, partnerships, and ventures using artificial intelligence and machine vision.
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