North American facial recognition technology remains the world's largest right now – but China is developing new technologies at an unmatchable pace.
According to CB Insights, Chinese entities filed for 530 cameras and video surveillance patents, while U.S. entities filed for only 96. Megvii is thought to be the first facial recognition "unicorn". The company was found by three Tsinghua graduates in 2011, and its main investors are said to include a Chinese state fund as well as Alibaba's Ant Financial.
Megvii's open-source platform, Face++, is considered the world's largest. That is due to 300,000 developers that use, and train, Megvii's software, it's also among the most accurate in the world. The company said that, by as early as 2013, their software had already surpassed the recognition accuracy rate of the human eye.
The company started as a facial recognition startup, but now they also develop body, object and text recognition software, not to mention also selling their own facial recognition surveillance cameras.
Some of the other Chinese companies in the facial recognition space include DeepGlint, SenseTime and Yitu.
Facial recognition technology in China is particularly prolific because it is widely used in both private commercial products and public surveillance systems. Megvii not only supplies products such as Alibaba's "Smile to Pay technology," but also sells cameras and monitoring software to governments in over 32 Chinese cities.
This type of technology is used in both commercial and government arenas, some consumers say that they're relatively open to use it since they encounter potential benefits in everyday life.