China using AI to battle coronavirus

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/5 20:18:44

Technology companies prioritize development of effective products

A robot equipped with loudspeakers and high-definition cameras admonish passersby who are not wearing masks in a Guangzhou Wanda Plaza on Tuesday. Photo: Courtesy of Guangzhou Gosuncn Robot Co

China plans to take full advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to shore up weak links in technology-assisted efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the country's industry watchdog.

In a proposal posted on its website on Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) called on AI-related associations, alliances, companies and institutions to mobilize scientific, research and manufacturing task forces to prioritize the development of products and applications that can effectively combat the disease.

The nation should deploy more AI technology in products involving virus detection, auxiliary diagnosis and temperature screening. The ministry said AI technology could accelerate the research of related drugs in virus gene sequencing, vaccine development and protein screening.

Beijing-based AI startup Megvii Technology, known for its facial recognition brand Face++, has developed a temperature screening tool that can help monitor human body temperatures in crowded places and identify individuals who might have a fever using facial recognition technology.

The system is on trial run in some subway stations and government offices in Beijing's Haidian district amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Shanghai-based DeepBlue Technology announced on Tuesday that its affiliated science academy has recently successfully developed a unique AI algorithm that enables fast drug screening for the novel coronavirus.

YITU Technology, also based in Shanghai, said on Tuesday that it has developed a smart assessment system for the virus based on computed tomography which allows for the quick diagnosis of the virus and the smart analysis of curative effects.

In a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday, iFlytek Co, based in Hefei, East China's Anhui Province, revealed that its healthcare unit has established a team to deal with the epidemic. The team's talent pool has now hit 69 individuals. It is committed to efforts including the deployment of the company's AI robots, which passed China's national medical licensing examination to analyze medical records and screen potential high-risk patients.

Through the use of drones, robots and facial recognition technology, those not wearing masks are easily detected. 

In a Guangzhou Wanda Plaza, a robot equipped with loudspeakers and high-definition cameras admonish passersby who are not wearing masks. If the "robotic police" spot those who fail to follow public health safety practices or those whose body temperature is abnormal, it could raise an alarm. 

Replacing police, 5G robots are able to take the temperatures of 10 people within 5 meters at once using infrared rays, with margin of error within 0.5 degrees Celsius. They can also detect people without masks using facial recognition technology, Bai Lin, the general manger of the Guangzhou-based developer, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The robots have been deployed in airports, railway stations, hospitals and shopping malls in more than 10 cities across China, including Guangdong and Guizhou provinces. Orders for the robots continue to increase amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Bai. 

In Beijing's South Railway Station, a device developed by Beijing-based China Transinfo could examine the body temperatures of over 2,000 passengers each day. Using facial identification technology and infrared rays, the device can identify those with abnormal temperatures, the Securities Daily reported.


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