A Close Look at China’s Face Recognition Technology

Face recognition is one of a number of biometric techniques that can be used to authenticate a user. It has grabbed attention following the launch of iPhone X, as well as other deployments in products like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Honor Magic.

While much focus has been put on Apple’s efforts with its FaceID technology, when we study recent developments in face recognition technology it is acutally China that is emerging as a global leader in this field.

Counterpoint has published a report where we set out a comprehensive analysis of China’s current technological advancements in face recognition by focusing on the most valuable industry applications, key market players, vertical segment opportunities, strategic planning assumptions around industry adoption and the longer-term outlook for how face recognition will develop.

Given the background of major biometric technologies, Counterpoint first explores historic milestones that led to the breakthrough of face recognition accuracy globally, such as the rise of deep learning algorithms and massive data availability from the internet. We then take a close and specific look at China’s face recognition technology and the factors that make China unique for its current achievements.

We further delve into the application level to examine the rate of adoption in China’s major vertical markets such as finance, smart surveillance, intelligent buildings, smartphones, etc.

Based on a commercialization criteria model we developed (market size, data reflow, usage frequency and industry replication), we then provide key planning assumptions on when each of the industries can achieve wide scale adoption first, and which market segments present the most promising and valuable opportunities.

An in-depth analysis of industry’s competitive landscape is also included, with discussions on competitive positioning among leading players  (Baidu, Face++, SenseTime, Tencent, Alibaba, etc), and our long-term expectations for each of them. We also believe that Chinese tech companies are competing in a face recognition patent race in order to gain core competitive advantage. This will make a big impact on the relationship between the new comers and existing leading players

We also consider the benefits and tradeoffs in the use of different semiconductor approaches between, for example, GPU and FPGA, in performing the necessary computations in face recognition. This is critical to market players since deployment at a semiconductor level can lead to changes at the ecosystem level.

Other factors considered in the report include the adoption rate of China’s face recognition technology, including a look into the government’s macroeconomic policy support. It is apparent that while A.I. is considered the most promising element of Industry 4.0 in China, face recognition is one of the key components of A.I., and an enabler of an “Intelligent Society” China hopes to build in the future.

To see the full report, click here.

Wei is a senior consultant in Counterpoint specializing in Artificial Intelligence. She is also the China founder of Humanity+, an international non-profit organization which advocates the ethical use of emerging technologies. She formerly served as a product manager of Embedded Industrial PC at Advantech. Before that she was an MBA consultant to Nuance Communications where her team successfully developed and launched Nuance’s first B2C voice recognition app on iPhone (later became Siri). Wei’s early years in the industry were spent in IDC’s Massachusetts headquarters and The World Bank’s DC headquarters.

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