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AI commercialization reaches a critical inflection point

2020-12-30



* The article was originally published at The Economist's “The World in 2021”.  


The demand for Artificial Intelligence solutions has grown in new and unexpected ways with the onset of COVID-19, leading us closer to a critical inflection point for commercialization of AI technology. In response to the pandemic, and as more day-to-day activities and interactions become digitalized and automated, we have seen the introduction of new and ground-breaking AI applications – in areas from healthcare security and medical imaging to personal protection and business digitalization.

Clearly, 2021 will be a critical year for ongoing acceleration of AI’s commercial use. Businesses must ensure they are fully prepared to embrace the transformation brought about by dispersed workforces, while manufacturers are requiring greater efficiency and optimization in their supply chains. 

Algorithms as a key to the commercialization of AI 
The AI industry, meanwhile, must now address the myriad of challenges created by rising expectations and the need to produce sophisticated algorithms that are capable of powering solutions that integrate software and hardware, especially as we move closer to an era dominated by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Customer demand is on the rise for multi-dimensional products and solutions. Users will not be satisfied with software that cannot seamlessly connect multiple devices and systems.
These solutions must be efficient and affordable. Delivering the AI algorithms that can operate these products and solutions will depend not only on improved training and deployment, but scalability. Right now, the cost of generating an algorithm is too high, the cycle is too long, and useful tools for algorithm scalability remain scarce.

At Megvii, the China-based AI technology company, we recognize that addressing this bottleneck requires pragmaticism and leadership. Earlier this year, we took the important step of sharing with developers Brain++, our AI productivity platform. In March, we chose to open source our deep learning framework MegEngine; and in September, we made Brain++ available to all commercial developers, allowing businesses to build their own AI capabilities and deploy customized algorithms at scale.

Brain++ can effectively shorten algorithm development time by 80% and reduce the overall cost of algorithm production by 55%. We consider this technology to be one of our core competencies and now outside developers have access to the same platform that Megvii’s 3,000 employees, including our in-house 1,400 developers, use at work every day.


Ushering in the AIoT Era
Since our founding nine years ago, Megvii has focused on addressing pain points in commercial areas where we can deliver maximum impact and value. We work at the intersection of AI’s application in the real economy to raise the efficiency and productivity of traditional industries, while preparing for a future that will see the full integration of software and hardware and the creation of intelligent and connected solutions, or AIoT, the Artificial Intelligence of Things.

Our company now operates in three main business segments –Personal IoT, which includes consumer electronics; City IoT, where we design solutions for traffic optimization, smart buildings and public safety; and Supply Chain IoT, our robotics for warehousing and manufacturing. Our customers include smartphone and mobile application companies, ride-sharing firms, city mass transit systems, fintech companies, as well as real estate and logistics businesses.

Powering traditional industries with AI
After the outbreak of COVID-19, as more industries further embraced automation and the contactless economy, Megvii rolled out a suite of AI-enabled intelligent solutions, including contactless temperature measurement and warehousing. The temperature measurement systems under our Ming Ji brand name have been widely adopted across China for temperature screening at high-density locations. The Mini version of Ming Ji has also been deployed in key international markets, including Japan, Thailand, and the Middle East, to facilitate the gradual return to offices and the resumption of production and social activities across the globe.

Megvii is now deepening our work with manufacturing industry and logistics, as more companies choose to undertake AI warehousing to respond to skyrocketing customer demands and volumes. The company recently launched the next generation of our smart logistics platform, HETU, along with a new suite of smart logistics hardware. Our HETU operating platform now is used as the backbone for the first warehouse in Asia to deploy more than 400 robots.

COVID-19 has given AI companies around the world a greater opportunity for developing technology that helps people enjoy safer and healthier lives. That trend is certain to accelerate in 2021. Realizing the commercialization of AI, however, requires we now address the various real-world challenges attributable to the industry’s own shortcomings, starting with the insufficient supply of algorithms. It also must include consideration for ethics and corporate governance, to ensure that our innovations have a positive impact on society. The next year is certain to be filled critical developments for the entire AI industry, and at Megvii we’re excited about meeting the challenges of today, so that we’re positioned to power humanity with AI tomorrow.


AI commercialization reaches a critical inflection point

2020-12-30



* The article was originally published at The Economist's “The World in 2021”.  


The demand for Artificial Intelligence solutions has grown in new and unexpected ways with the onset of COVID-19, leading us closer to a critical inflection point for commercialization of AI technology. In response to the pandemic, and as more day-to-day activities and interactions become digitalized and automated, we have seen the introduction of new and ground-breaking AI applications – in areas from healthcare security and medical imaging to personal protection and business digitalization.

Clearly, 2021 will be a critical year for ongoing acceleration of AI’s commercial use. Businesses must ensure they are fully prepared to embrace the transformation brought about by dispersed workforces, while manufacturers are requiring greater efficiency and optimization in their supply chains. 

Algorithms as a key to the commercialization of AI 
The AI industry, meanwhile, must now address the myriad of challenges created by rising expectations and the need to produce sophisticated algorithms that are capable of powering solutions that integrate software and hardware, especially as we move closer to an era dominated by the Internet of Things (IoT).

Customer demand is on the rise for multi-dimensional products and solutions. Users will not be satisfied with software that cannot seamlessly connect multiple devices and systems.
These solutions must be efficient and affordable. Delivering the AI algorithms that can operate these products and solutions will depend not only on improved training and deployment, but scalability. Right now, the cost of generating an algorithm is too high, the cycle is too long, and useful tools for algorithm scalability remain scarce.

At Megvii, the China-based AI technology company, we recognize that addressing this bottleneck requires pragmaticism and leadership. Earlier this year, we took the important step of sharing with developers Brain++, our AI productivity platform. In March, we chose to open source our deep learning framework MegEngine; and in September, we made Brain++ available to all commercial developers, allowing businesses to build their own AI capabilities and deploy customized algorithms at scale.

Brain++ can effectively shorten algorithm development time by 80% and reduce the overall cost of algorithm production by 55%. We consider this technology to be one of our core competencies and now outside developers have access to the same platform that Megvii’s 3,000 employees, including our in-house 1,400 developers, use at work every day.


Ushering in the AIoT Era
Since our founding nine years ago, Megvii has focused on addressing pain points in commercial areas where we can deliver maximum impact and value. We work at the intersection of AI’s application in the real economy to raise the efficiency and productivity of traditional industries, while preparing for a future that will see the full integration of software and hardware and the creation of intelligent and connected solutions, or AIoT, the Artificial Intelligence of Things.

Our company now operates in three main business segments –Personal IoT, which includes consumer electronics; City IoT, where we design solutions for traffic optimization, smart buildings and public safety; and Supply Chain IoT, our robotics for warehousing and manufacturing. Our customers include smartphone and mobile application companies, ride-sharing firms, city mass transit systems, fintech companies, as well as real estate and logistics businesses.

Powering traditional industries with AI
After the outbreak of COVID-19, as more industries further embraced automation and the contactless economy, Megvii rolled out a suite of AI-enabled intelligent solutions, including contactless temperature measurement and warehousing. The temperature measurement systems under our Ming Ji brand name have been widely adopted across China for temperature screening at high-density locations. The Mini version of Ming Ji has also been deployed in key international markets, including Japan, Thailand, and the Middle East, to facilitate the gradual return to offices and the resumption of production and social activities across the globe.

Megvii is now deepening our work with manufacturing industry and logistics, as more companies choose to undertake AI warehousing to respond to skyrocketing customer demands and volumes. The company recently launched the next generation of our smart logistics platform, HETU, along with a new suite of smart logistics hardware. Our HETU operating platform now is used as the backbone for the first warehouse in Asia to deploy more than 400 robots.

COVID-19 has given AI companies around the world a greater opportunity for developing technology that helps people enjoy safer and healthier lives. That trend is certain to accelerate in 2021. Realizing the commercialization of AI, however, requires we now address the various real-world challenges attributable to the industry’s own shortcomings, starting with the insufficient supply of algorithms. It also must include consideration for ethics and corporate governance, to ensure that our innovations have a positive impact on society. The next year is certain to be filled critical developments for the entire AI industry, and at Megvii we’re excited about meeting the challenges of today, so that we’re positioned to power humanity with AI tomorrow.


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