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Facial recognition tech nets fugitives

By Cheng Yu and Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-14 09:14

Technology is a great enabler for police, judging by the recent social media headlines that facial recognition technology led to the arrest of a fugitive at a concert of Cantopop legend Jacky Cheung in Jinhua, Zhejiang province.

The wanted criminal was recognized at a Jacky Cheung concert by the facial recognition system of Yitu Technology, a Shanghai-based startup focusing on computer vision technology.

Another four criminals were also caught at Cheung's concerts by using facial technology earlier.

The incident reflects a broader trend sweeping China where an array of tech startups is making inroads into facial recognition. The nation has already nurtured four unicorns in the field, or startups with valuations above $1 billion, SenseTime Co, Yitu Technology, Megvii Technology Inc, and Cloudwalk Technology.

These facial recognition startups have also received great attention from investors. SenseTime, another leading startup in facial recognition, announced earlier this month that it had raised $620 million in its Series C plus round of fundraising, which will accelerate its overseas expansion.

It is also the company's second fundraising this year shortly after it acquired $600 million in its Series C round of fundraising led by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

These four unicorns are enabling banks, airports, hotels and even public toilets in China to verify people's identities by scanning their faces through deploying cutting-edge technologies, especially in the security and finance sectors.

The criminal at the concert in Zhejiang province was captured when passing through a security check when the Yitu system recognized him and issued the alert, which helped local police to quickly arrest him.

The Shanghai-based company's facial recognition technology is able to recognize identities in seconds, which can be widely applied by security departments.

"The security industry is the best place to nurture facial recognition technologies, as police departments often have a huge demand for real-time image-matching services, and they deal with a great deal of data that can help fine-tune our system," said Zhu Long, founder and CEO of Yitu.

The company has already inked cooperation deals with nearly 30 provincial public security departments and has served more than 150 public security departments at prefecture-level cities. Its technologies have also been applied in border inspection and defense.

According to Qianzhan Research Institute, the market volume of China's facial recognition industry is expected to hit 5.1 billion yuan ($810 million) in 2021, up from more than 1.7 billion yuan in 2016.

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