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Friday, October 20, 2017

Qualcomm pushes on-chip AI with SenseTime deal

By Nick Flaherty at

Qualcomm Technologies has teamed up with Chinese algorithm developer SenseTime on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for future Snapdragon mobile and IoT chips.

The collaboration will add SenseTime’s ML models and algorithms to the premium and high-tier Snapdragon platforms, which offer advanced heterogeneous computing capabilities for client based AI. The companies expect to drive the popularity and development of on-device AI in areas such as innovative vision and camera-based image processing.

Devices such as smartphones and connected cameras are becoming more intelligent with the proliferation of AI. Implementing AI on the device provides a number of advantages over cloud-only implementations, enabling edge devices to provide reliable execution with or without a network connection. Additional benefits of on-device AI include real-time performance, privacy protection and enhanced reliability.

“To develop an AI ecosystem, it takes efforts from players in multiple industries,” said Dr Li Xu, co-founder and chief executive officer of SenseTime. “The strategic collaboration between SenseTime and Qualcomm Technologies will advance on-device intelligence by leveraging our algorithm and Qualcomm Technologies’ chipset. Together we’ll push the envelope and extend AI to places that are currently beyond reach. Our strategic collaboration will become a turning point for the whole AI ecosystem."

“Qualcomm has been conducting fundamental research in AI over a decade,” said Keith Kressin, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “In fact, many devices shipping today using our Snapdragon mobile platforms already utilize on-device AI. We look forward to the results of our collaboration with SenseTime to further accelerate new and exciting capabilities of on-device AI for millions of customers using mobile devices.”

Currently, Qualcomm Technologies is focused on optimizing the Snapdragon mobile platform to accelerate myriad AI use cases in the areas of computer vision and natural language processing — for smartphones, IoT and automotive — and is researching broader executions in the areas of wireless connectivity, power management, and photography. SenseTime's proprietary deep learning platform called Parrots allows a variety of AI algorithms to be developed with low cost and quick turn-around in small footprints. It has more than 400 customers and strategic partners including Qualcomm, NVIDIA, China Mobile, UnionPay, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo and Weibo.

The first fruits of the collaboration are being demonstrated at the end of the month (October 2017).

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