SenseTime Group is a Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) startup that was founded back in 2014 by Tang Xiaoou and is already valued at more than $2 billion. SenseTime is a company that specialises in providing facial recognition technology to others to be used in various applications including banking, and security services. It’s latest plans to be unveiled include its intention to open a US research and development center next year and to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO).
Tang Xiaoou is a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and is quickly becoming a leader in the field of AI in China. Much of this is down to the company’s partnerships with both private and government bodies in offering its facial recognition technology. Some of it’s biggest clients include Huawei Technologies, HNA Group, and China Mobile. “We are growing very fast, funding is never an issue. Big-name investors are queuing to get in,” says Tang. “So for us, we are not in a hurry to IPO. But, at the right time, we definitely will.”
The company recently received a sealed investment from Qualcomm as part of collaboration to develop advanced AI chips. Tang also confirmed that SenseTime had also secured a $100 million deal through a silent investor to further develop autonomous driving technology. With an error rate of 1/100 million and a training database of 2 billion faces and 10 billion images and videos, you can see why the company is a soaring success. The technology framework that SenseTime is based is very similar to that of Facebook’s Torch and Google’s Tensor Flow.
Some other Chinese AI startups to receive huge amounts of funding lately include Guangzhou Cloudwalk Technology with around $379 million, and Face++ with $460 million. Alibaba Group, Baidu Inc., and Tencent Holdings are also investing heavily in AI and have their own dedicated labs in place developing facial recognition technology.
Already SenseTime is involved heavily in 14 different sectors including high-performance computing and medical imaging. “Our target is definitely not to create a small company to be acquired, but rather a ‘platform company’ that dominates with original core technology like Google and Facebook,” said Tang. “With Facebook we compete in facial recognition; with Google it is visual object recognition, sorting 1,000 categories of objects.”