Partnerships / Acquisitions

Baidu Buys xPerception For Bigger AI Push

Baidu, the Chinese Internet company, has inked a deal to acquire xPerception, a U.S. computer vision firm, for an undisclosed sum.

According to a report in Reuters, the move on the part of Baidu to buy the computer vision company comes as it is renewing its efforts in the artificial intelligence (AI) space. The move is prompted by a rush among Chinese technology firms as they expect to face regulatory headwinds in the U.S., noted Reuters.

xPerception makes a vision perception software and hardware with a focus on robotics and virtual reality. The company will continue to work on its main technology, but its efforts will now fall under Baidu’s research arm.

“The acquisition of xPerception is the latest in a recent series of notable investments aimed at strengthening Baidu’s position as a global leader in AI,” the companies said in a statement to Reuters. With the acquisition, Baidu is going after foreign workers as well as technology as it aims to refocus the company’s resources on AI. The company’s search business took a hit last year with the Chinese government increasing the restrictions on online ads.  Baidu told Reuters the acquisition will help the company create visual perception technology, which will be used in augmented reality (AR) projects and for its self-driving unit.

Late last year Baidu and KFC China announced they are working together on a new “smart restaurant” in Beijing that will use facial recognition and factors such as age, gender and facial expression to suggest things a customer may order. The technology will be unique to this specific location, but the restaurant will also offer AR games via table stickers, TechCrunch reported. The image recognition offering will scan a customer’s face, looking specifically for information it can use to inform a food recommendation. This can include everything from inferring mood to gender and age data.

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