Megvii Technology, a Chinese company, founded in 2011 and widely known for its Face++ system, is one of the world leaders in facial recognition and artificial intelligence technology. While they might be best known for Face++, Megvii uses artificial intelligence and machine vision in a variety of amazing ways.
Megvii was the concept conceived by friends and Tsinghua University graduates Yin Qui, Yang Mu, and Tang Wenbin. After tremendous success in China (especially since they were able to train algorithms from China’s vast pool of data) with clients such as Ant Financial, Vivo (smartphones), Didi Chuxing (ride-sharing) and investments from Bank of China, the State-Owned Venture Capital Fund, China-Russian Investment Fund and other private investors including Ant Financial (Alibaba’s payment affiliate), Megvii is ready to go global. They have projects slated in the coming year for Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the United States and have secured a distributor in Thailand.
Face++: Technology Megvii is Most Known For
One of the main reasons Megvii has received global attention is due to law enforcement using Face++ to find criminals and the questions that result as people contemplate how this same technology can be used to monitor law-abiding citizens. China already has a vast surveillance network with 170 million security cameras in use for its Skynet system and 400 million more on the way. Face++ can detect faces, analyse 106 data points on the face, and confirm a person’s identity with a high degree of accuracy. It’s also an open platform and lets any developer create apps using its algorithms, which has helped make it the most extensive facial recognition platform in the world with 300,000 developers from 150 countries using it. The more data that gets fed into it, the better it becomes. At present, these facial recognition systems are targeted because there isn’t enough computing power available to support a non-targeted system. That should give some of us a bit more peace of mind that we are not yet being tracked 24/7.
While law enforcement applications are certainly what’s given Face++ the most attention, the technology can be used in several ways. Here are a few:
- Facial recognition software can be used for payments and to prevent fraud. Alibaba’s subsidiary, Ant Financial, has invested in Megvii and uses Face++ to power its “Smile to Pay” service at a KFC concept store.
- Face++ is also used by Meitu, the dominant mobile pay app in China.
- The ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing can help ensure the safety of the drivers and passengers by using facial recognition technology to confirm identities. It also allows both the driver and the passenger to be tracked down if any dispute or legal issue arises.
- Badges don’t grant access to Megvii’s office, but your smile does, assuming you’re in the database. Residential and commercial real estate properties can also similarly use facial recognition technology to ensure access to only authorised people.
- Some train stations in Beijing will match national IDs with passengers’ faces to verify train tickets.
- Retail stores could become more profitable by using facial recognition technology to identify rewards members and then provide extra service and can also determine the busiest times for the store, what areas are drawing the most traffic, what kinds of people visit the store and what they buy.
- Face++ is already integrated into Alibaba’s City Brain platform. It’s used to analyse the CCTV network in cities where it’s deployed to optimise traffic flows and “see” incidents that require police or medical attention.
- China requires platforms to verify user identities before they can post on social media or blogs. Face++ is being used for this authentication.
Other Ways Megvii Uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Vision
Megvii invested 2 billion yuan ($293.9 million) to propel the use of robotics in logistics and also acquired the Beijing Ares Robot Technology company. This investment illustrates the company is no longer content just to be the leader in facial recognition technology. Now, they are using their resources to influence the digital transformation of supply chains.
Megvii’s Hetu (River Map) system is used by an e-commerce platform of Alibaba called Tmall. The Hetu system coordinates 500 robots in the Tmall warehouse to boost efficiency and dramatically reduced the distance human package sorters need to walk in a day. This robotics operating system combines the Internet of Things with artificial intelligence. The company sees abundant opportunity in an intelligent operation system to enhance the world’s supply chain by using the same underlying computer vision technology they developed for Face++.
Lastly, Megvii developed Brain++, their own deep learning algorithm, that is as good or better than some of the other deep learning engines in existence. Brain++ is the AI trainer that helps Face++ become better.