A safer world with AI


Smart move: A drone verifying the faces of (from left) Wang and Ang as Lin observes the process during the opening of Yitu Technology’s first international office in Singapore.

IN the near future, you will not need to carry your bankcard to withdraw money from an ATM. Just look at the screen, key in your personal identification number (PIN) and start your transactions.

And if your identity card is stolen or lost, you have nothing to fear. The machine will reject the photograph on your IC, as it only recognises the “real face”. This will cut down or eliminate financial fraud.

And if there is an unwelcome stranger standing close to you, so much so his face is partially captured on the screen of the ATM, the transaction cannot take place too.

But this scenerio of easy banking and crime prevention could only happen if Malaysian banks start embracing Yitu Technology’s facial identification solution, which has been ranked as the most accurate in the world.

Yitu, a Shanghai-based pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) which won the world championship in the Face Recognition Vendor Test in Silicon Valley last year, is marketing its facial identification and other AI solutions to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

It has just set up its first international office in Singapore. The launch of this 20-staff office, to be followed by the setting up of an R&D centre at the end of this year, took place last Tuesday.

Yitu’s facial technology for ATMs has been deployed in 1,800 branches of China Merchants Bank, a Fortune 500 company.

The other bank using this technology is Agricultural Bank of China, listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“China Merchants Bank has been using our technology for two years. There have been no complaints,” said Lance Wang, general manager of Yitu for South-East Asia, Hong Kong and Macau.

“South-East Asia is an interesting region for us. Singapore and Malaysia are very important markets. We are in the process of talking to our potential partners,” Wang said in Singapore during the official opening of Yitu’s regional headquarters there.

It is learnt that the Home Ministry in Malaysia is looking into this AI solution to provide a safer environment in the country where the crime rate is a concern.

Beyond facial recognition, Yitu’s powerful AI algorithms have also been used in vehicle recognition platform. This could help law enforcers to detect the use of fake licence plates and monitor the entry/exit of cars.

One big plus of incorporating this technology into the country’s CCTV surveilance system is that there is no necessity to increase police staff to fight crime anymore. Hence, the police force can stay lean.

According to Yitu’s publicity booklet, Yitu has the world’s largest portrait comparison platform. Currently, it is capable of identifying 1.8 billion individuals (foreigners and Chinese) within seconds.

Yitu’s intelligent urban security solutions are being used by 150 municipal public security systems and 20 provincial public security departments across China.

According to an interview given to South China Morning Post by Yitu’s co-founder Leo Shu, 500 criminal cases have been resolved by AI in Suzhou since June 2015.

Chinese police arrested nine suspects identified by Yitu’s algorithms during the G20 summit in Hangzhou in 2016.

In addition, Yitu’s security platform has enabled organisations to implement state-of-the art surveillance. The alarm can be triggered off once unwelcome individuals enter high security or off-limit areas.

Apart from banking and public security, Yitu’s technology is also being used in healthcare for accurate diagnosis of diseases.

According to Wang, about 30 triple-A rated hospitals in China are using Yitu’s technology for accurate and fast diagnosis, as its system could analyse CT, X-ray and MRI scans.

While doctors normally take about 10 minutes or more to make the report of a lung CT scan, Yitu’s algorithm needs only three seconds to produce a text file containing all information on location, size and shape of a tumour.

At the Singapore launch, Yitu’s co-founder Lin Chenxi said Singapore – which is developing its AI sector – had immense potential as a market for AI development and innovation.

“We see Singapore as a springboard to introduce our cutting-edge solutions to the region to showcase the limitless possibilities our technologies can bring to build a smarter, better future in Asia and beyond.”

Ang Chin Tah, director of Information and Media at Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said Yitu’s presence “will give the brightest AI talents from Singapore a chance to work alongside a technology leader, to tackle the challenges across industries for Singapore, Asia and the world.”

Last year, Singapore identified AI as a frontier technology to accelerate the transformation of businesses. Singapore’s AI apprenticeship programme aims to train up to 200 AI engineers over the next three years.

Yitu, staffed by 400 AI experts in China and 100 supporting staff, will use its Singapore office to deliver AI solutions to the financial services and public sectors in Asian markets, with plans to expand into healthcare and transportation sectors.

Yitu Technology’s powerful facial recognition technology is set to make life more convenient and safer in countries that embrace this AI solution. China is seeing results.

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