China is going all-in on face recognition, with the technology enjoying widespread adoption in applications including access-control, train ticketing and police surveillance. And leading the country’s plunge into this form of biometric technology is indigenous startup Megvii Inc., whose Face++ technology has emerged as the world’s largest face recognition platform, according to MIT Technology Review.
Relatively unknown in the West, Megvii’s Face++ has been piling up a record of superlatives in China. Building on its affiliation with Chinese internet-commerce giant Alibaba, Megvii’s technology currently is used by more than 300,000 developers in 150 countries to identify faces, as well as images, text, and various kinds of government-issued IDs. The company has an estimated valuation of $1 billion, making it a technology unicorn.
Notable uses of Face++ in China include the security ID system at Alibaba’s office in Shenzhen. Alibaba also demonstrated a face-recognition-based online payment system called Alipay that authenticated user ID using the Face++ technology. Megvii said the face recognition version of Alipay soon will be offered to consumers.
In another example, a train station in Beijing can match passengers’ tickets to their government IDs by scanning their faces. If their face corresponds with their ID card photo, the system validates their tickets and opens the station gates.
Outside of authentication applications, Face++ is being used in a surveillance system in Hangzhou that can recognize faces of suspected criminals.
Megvii’s technology now is being sold under the name Face++ Cognitive Services, a platform that offers computer vision technologies. The company offers application programming interfaces and software development kits that allow developers to easily add leading, deep learning-based image analysis recognition technologies into your applications.
The company says its technology is robust, working even in low-lighting conditions or when the views of peoples’ faces are partly blocked. The algorithm also runs rapidly, quickly returning results on any device. Face++ also can detect an unlimited number of faces.
The technology is also fast. The Megvii site allows users to upload images of people and performs an immediate facial recognition analysis. For example, uploading a headshot of Tesla CEO Elon Musk instantaneously returned information including his sex, race, emotional state and an estimate of his age.
The rapid rise of face recognition technology in China is just one element of a nationwide commitment to AI technology. The Chinese government in July announced an AI development plan designed to deliver global leadership in the technology. The envisions the domestic AI market will grow to nearly $150 billion in 2030.
Nirel Marofsky is project analyst for the cognitive engine and application ecosystem at Veritone. She acts as a liaison to strategic partners, integrating developers and their capabilities into the Veritone Platform. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.