HONG KONG, 7 December 2020 – The South China Morning Post announced today the release of its inaugural Computer Vision Report, a definitive artificial intelligence industry deep dive that offers a comprehensive resource on the latest trends and future trajectory of China’s largest AI sector. 

Computer vision — the field of computer science focused on enabling computers to visually identify and process objects in digital images or videos — dominates China AI with a 50% market share and currently leads the world in terms of funding with US$4.5 billion raised from venture capital during 2016-18. 

Despite being at the forefront of commercialization and development in China, CV’s application in the security and surveillance sector has become saturated. In addition to the impact of the US-China tech war, this has prompted the drive to discover new domestic alternatives and the next CV growth engine.  

The 130-page report provides insights, essential investment theses, and future market analysis of this surveillance-dependent sector, including exclusive in-depth case studies across five key verticals, an overview of deployment and market development, comprehensive ecosystem maps of more than 160 CV companies in China, and head-to-head comparisons with comprehensive metrics for global investment professionals and companies looking to adopt CV.

A selection of the report’s key findings include:

  • The increasingly saturated surveillance applications in government projects has prompted the CV industry to search for growth in other use cases. Potential opportunities include:
    • Security: As the overall penetration rate of CV remains low, CV companies are expanding their offerings to a wide range of security solutions. 
    • Healthcare: Regulatory change has widened the market for medical imaging.
    • Autonomous vehicles: While fully self-driving cars have yet to be achieved, some players have managed to profit on existing technologies.
    • Finance: The insurance sector is emerging as a major user of object recognition technology.
    • Retail and marketing: CV is in great demand amid stalling sales growth and declining productivity. Major use cases include cashier-free shopping and store traffic analysis.
  • Despite the previous high growth of its CV market, China has yet to take the lead in CV, currently lagging behind the US in key areas, including hardware, talent and patents.
  • Contrary to some people’s belief, privacy concerns over facial recognition are growing in China. Besides, China’s CV industry still needs to work on reducing its reliance on underlying algorithms from the US, convincing its best and brightest to develop their ideas at home, and overcoming its dependence on manually-labeled data.

“Having survived the US-China technological rivalry in 2019, Computer Vision unicorns in China face major challenges with an increasingly saturated market for surveillance applications.” said SCMP’s Technology Editor John Artman. “Searching for the next growth engine after security is a top priority for major CV companies in China and how they adapt will determine the evolution of the AI sector.”

The report is part of SCMP Research’s China AI Deep-Dive Series, targeted at professionals monitoring the development and commercialization of computer vision technologies in China, such as investors, technology companies, corporate executives, service providers, and academics. Please click here to purchase the full Computer Vision Report.


The South China Morning Post is a leading global news company that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century. Founded in 1903, SCMP is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it is the city’s newspaper of record, with a growing correspondent staff across Asia and the United States. SCMP’s vision is to “Elevate Thought” and our mission is to “Lead the global conversation about China”. Additionally, SCMP publishes a portfolio of premium lifestyle and fashion titles in Hong Kong including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Esquire and Harper’s BAZAAR. SCMP is also home to Abacus, a digital news brand focused on China’s tech industry; Inkstone, a digest for those curious about China’s growing impact around the world; and Goldthread, a content platform with a focus on food, travel and culture in China. In 2020, SCMP became the first news organisation in Asia to join the Trust Project, a consortium of top news companies developing global transparency standards for credible journalism.   


Targeted at global business leaders and China industry observers, SCMP Research aims to meet the increasing global need for reliable intelligence into China’s leading industries. For each industry, our proprietary product – which combines a report of the highest research rigour and a careful curation of live sessions with industry experts – provides customers with instant actionable insights.

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Elgen Kua