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Yitu Technology Sees Indonesia as Potential Hotbed for AI, Eyes Further Growth in Region


Shanghai-based Yitu Technology sees Indonesia as a significant market as the country has been showing a willingness to embrace artificial intelligence.

“Yitu sees Indonesia becoming a hotbed for AI adoption, driven by organizations that are embracing it to help them make better decisions, improve productivity and efficiency and reduce costs,” Lance Wang, general manager for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Macau at Yitu Technologies, said in an email to the Jakarta Globe.

According to a survey by global marketing intelligence firm IDC, the adoption of AI in Southeast Asia rose to 14 percent of the respondent this year compared to 8 percent last year.

The survey, which questioned 502 information technology executives from across the Asia Pacific, except Japan, also revealed that Indonesia is leading the pack in Southeast Asia with 25 percent of executives saying they were adopting the technology in their businesses. In comparison, the figure was 17.1 percent for Thailand and 9.9 percent for Singapore.

Indonesian retail, information technology, telecommunications, financial services and insurance companies also ranked the highest in AI adoption compared with Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Australia, Taiwan and India, according to a survey with a narrower scope conducted by tech firm Appier.

Two-thirds of Indonesian companies polled in the survey had either adopted AI technology in their business or were expanding their AI capacity. Appier surveyed only 260 business leaders in those eight countries.

In Indonesia, tech companies such as ride-hailing firm Go-Jek and web forum Kaskus are leading the charge for AI adoption and there is immense potential in the market for greater innovation in this field, Wang said.

Southeast Asia could potentially gain $897 billion in economic value if countries proactively adopt the technology across all sectors, a study by global management consultancy McKinsey & Company showed in 2017.

AI for Smart Cities 

Wang said Yitu has developed a traffic simulation algorithm that can model vehicle behavior to predict traffic flow, amid growing demand for better traffic management in cities across the globe, including in Jakarta.The system, which includes an array of cameras and sensors, can provide real-time data on road conditions and control traffic signals at every intersection in the city.

“If implemented in Jakarta, this could help ease traffic congestion and cut traveling times for commuters,” Wang said.

Jakarta was ranked the city with the 12th worst congestion in the world, with commuters spending an average of 63 hours stuck in traffic each year, according to the 2017 Traffic Scorecard, based on research by Inrix, a US-based real-time traffic information solution firm.

Indonesia, like any other country, will have its own unique challenges, but Wang said the capital city is making significant progress with its Smart City initiative.

One of the successful Smart City projects under the initiative, launched in 2014, involved replacing about 90,000 streetlights with energy-efficient LED lamps, connected through Philips City Touch – a software platform for outdoor lighting – to manage the city’s lighting infrastructure in accordance with the needs of each district. The project boasts energy savings of up to 70 percent.

“With rapid digitalization globally, smart city initiatives, such as those in Indonesia, are becoming imperative for countries to enhance their citizens’ quality of life and remain globally competitive,” Wang said.

Southeast Asia

Yitu, founded in 2012 by Chinese scientist, Leo Zhu, and Lin Chenxi, a former engineer at Alibaba Cloud, has made a breakthrough in facial recognition technology for the banking industry, while also pursuing AI adoption across a myriad of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing, transportation and health care.Yitu’s facial recognition technology can analyze 1.8 billion faces in less than three seconds. The company also developed an AI system to help doctors analyze medical data.

The company currently has a presence in seven cities in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, and more than 1,000 employees worldwide. It operates research labs in Silicon Valley in California and also in Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Strong economic growth in Southeast Asia has paved the way for greater investment and adoption of AI.

Yitu plans to establish a research and development center in Singapore later this year to pool AI talent in Southeast Asia and solve problems specific to the region.

“We also aim to work with local industry partners to deploy our AI technologies. Such partnerships help nurture AI talent in various industries, while strengthening AI capabilities and skill sets,” Wang said.