Incubated in a laboratory at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the artificial intelligence giant was founded in 2014 by Tang Xiaoou, a professor at the school, and computer scientist Xu Li.

Best known as a world leader in facial recognition algorithms, SenseTime’s deep learning platform has been supporting a wide array of applications including medical image analysis, autonomous driving, robot sensory and control.

The Covid-19 outbreak also brought new applications for SenseTime’s technology, such as contactless temperature monitoring in metro stations and office buildings across the country. The company is now setting many of the standards on projects in more than 12o cities in China, including real-time monitoring of traffic conditions and refuse collection, through to access control and security in hundreds of residential districts.

In 2019 SenseTime ran into political trouble on allegations from Washington that its surveillance cameras were being used in Xinjiang to persecute the Uyghur community. The company was cited on the US Commerce Department’s trade blacklist, effectively banning the company from buying US parts and importing American technology.

The sanctions also forced SenseTime to shelve its plan for an IPO on an international market. Last May it was reported to be looking to raise $1 billion in private funding to keep the company moving forward before a planned listing on the Shanghai STAR exchange instead. Its most recent valuation was $12 billion.

© ChinTell Ltd. All rights reserved.

Sponsored by HSBC.

The Week in China website and the weekly magazine publications are owned and maintained by ChinTell Limited, Hong Kong. Neither HSBC nor any member of the HSBC group of companies ("HSBC") endorses the contents and/or is involved in selecting, creating or editing the contents of the Week in China website or the Week in China magazine. The views expressed in these publications are solely the views of ChinTell Limited and do not necessarily reflect the views or investment ideas of HSBC. No responsibility will therefore be assumed by HSBC for the contents of these publications or for the errors or omissions therein.