Posted on Friday, Aug 10th 2018
According to a Markets and Markets report, the global facial recognition software and tool market is estimated to grow 14% annually over the next four years to $7.8 billion by the year 2022 from just over $4 billion in 2017. The growth is estimated to be driven by the growing need for enhanced surveillance and monitoring at public places driven by government regulations and concerns about safety. China-based Billion Dollar Unicorn player Yitu Technologies is already making its presence felt in the industry.
Shanghai-based Yitu Technology was founded in 2012 by Alibaba veteran Lin Chenxi and UCLA alumnus Leo Zhu with the mission of integrating AI tools in business applications to build a safer, faster and healthier world. It leverages AI research to deliver comprehensive solutions that help with machine vision, listening, and understanding. It focuses on areas of computer vision, natural language understanding, knowledge reasoning, intelligent hardware, and robotics to serve its customers that are spread across security, finance, transportation, and healthcare sectors.
China is rapidly deploying facial recognition services across the country. For instance, within the banking sector, there are more than 12,000 ATMs deployed in the country that do not need consumers to bring in their debit cards. They use facial recognition to access the user’s bank account. Yitu is helping bring this capability into the country. Yitu claims that its database of more than 1 billion photographs enables it to identify faces within a second. Its technology has received several accolades and was rated the highest in identification accuracy by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in November 2017.
Besides facial recognition, Yitu also specializes in vehicle recognition. Its car recognition technology is being used by police in China to help capture convicts and identify targeted vehicles within surveillance video shots. Besides addressing crime, Yitu is also leveraging this technology to build smarter cities in China. It has partnered with Alibaba to predict and improve traffic flow in China’s Hangzhou’s urban intersections.
Yitu is privately held and does not disclose its financials. It has raised $355 million from six rounds from investors including China Industrial Asset Management Ltd., SPDB International, GC Capital, Gaocheng Capital, ICBC International, Yunfeng Capital (YF Capital), Gaorong Capital, Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital Group, and ZhenFund. Its latest funding was received in June this year when it raised $300 million at a valuation of $2.4 billion.
According to an IHS Markit Ltd, video surveillance market in China worth $6.4 billion in 2016 is expected to grow 12% annually through 2021. The US market, on the other hand was worth $2.9 billion in 2016 and estimated to grow 0.7% annually. Besides Yitu, there are others like SenseTime that are cashing in on this growth. Yitu is the second largest player in the country and the market is dominated by SenseTime, another Chinese startup valued at $4.5 billion.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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