Yitu’s apps give se­cu­rity the tech­no­log­i­cal edge

... the se­cu­rity in­dus­try is the na­tive soil to nur­ture fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nolo­gies.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 13 Business - By MA SI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zhu Long re­mem­bers clearly how he got the first or­der for his com­pany Yitu Tech­nol­ogy, a Shang­hai-based startup fo­cus­ing on com­puter vi­sion tech­nol­ogy.

That was 2012 when Zhu, a post­doc­toral fel­low at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, just re­turned to China. He chose the se­cu­rity in­dus­try as the start­ing point to build his own busi­ness.

But with no clients and with­out any back­ground in in­dus­try, Zhu ran into trou­ble — un­til he man­aged to have a three­minute con­ver­sa­tion with a deputy chief of a pub­lic se­cu­rity bureau in a Chi­nese city.

“He was too busy to lis­ten to what I had pre­pared, and just said, ‘Now our com­puter sys­tem can barely rec­og­nize 30 per­cent of false car reg­is­tra­tion plates. If you can boost the fig­ure to over 70 per­cent, we will use your tech­nol­ogy’,” Zhu re­called.

Three months later, Yitu clinched the deal. Yitu of­fered a sys­tem that boasts recog­ni­tion ac­cu­racy of 90 per­cent. Its suc­cess high­lights how im­por­tant tech­no­log­i­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity is to crack open a tra­di­tional sec­tor dom­i­nated by es­tab­lished play­ers.

“Though dif­fi­cult to make the first step, the se­cu­rity in­dus­try is the na­tive soil to nur­ture fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nolo­gies, for po­lice founder of Shang­haibased Yitu Tech­nol­ogy de­part­ments of­ten have a huge de­mand for real-time im­age-match­ing ser­vices, and they deal with tons of data that can help train our sys­tem,” Zhu said.

That ini­tial suc­cess helped Yitu to get a foothold in the multi­bil­lion dol­lar se­cu­rity in­dus­try.

To bet­ter pen­e­trate the sec­tor, Yitu forged a joint ven­ture in 2016 with Syn­the­sis, a firm that spe­cial­izes in iden­tity recog­ni­tion so­lu­tions and boasts years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the sec­tor.

The joint ven­ture will in­te­grate Yitu’s AI al­go­rithms into Syn­the­sis’ hard­ware to of­fer bet­ter ser­vices.

Xiang Yang, an AI ex­pert at the China Cen­ter for In­for­ma­tion In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment, said ap­pli­ca­tion sce­nar­ios are of vi­tal im­por­tance for AI com­pa­nies, for dif­fer­ences such as light in di­verse en­vi­ron­ments can af­fect the ac­cu­racy of sys­tems.

“So, the key is to have deep un­der­stand­ing of each ap­pli­ca­tion sce­nario, and come up with best so­lu­tions ac­cord­ingly. Team­ing up with ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers is a way to quickly achieve that,” Xiang said.

Yitu is also march­ing into other sec­tors such as fi­nance, trans­porta­tion and health­care. In May, it raised 380 mil­lion yuan ($60,000) in its Se­ries C round of fund­ing, led by Yun­feng Cap­i­tal, a pri­vate eq­uity firm backed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and Se­quoia Cap­i­tal.

The com­pany plans to set up a re­search and de­vel­op­ment hub in Sin­ga­pore soon, fa­cial recog­ni­tion its first such fa­cil­ity out­side of China.

The hub is ex­pected to bol­ster Sin­ga­pore’s ap­pli­ca­tions of AI in the ar­eas of se­cu­rity and fi­nance. Sin­ga­pore will likely act as a gate­way for the startup to ex­pand across the world.

“Sin­ga­pore is a strate­gic lo­ca­tion for us to be­gin our over­seas ven­tures,” Zhu said, adding Europe and Africa will be tapped next.


Con­sumers need to ei­ther scan a QR code us­ing their smart­phones or pass through gates that use fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy to en­ter JD’s X su­per­mar­ket in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

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