Wang Xiaopeng: the Thousand Talents Plan entrepreneur from the Dian Team
Wang Xiaopeng (Dr. Leo Wang), a veteran member of HUST Dian Team, ranks No.1 on the recently-published entrepreneurs list of the 12th Thousand Talents Plan for his achievement in iris recognition.
Born in 1980s, Wang Xiaopeng enrolled at the Department of Electronics and Information Engineering of HUST in 1999. It was at that time that he joined the Dian Team. In 2010, Wang Xiaopeng created Eyesmart Technology Ltd., a company focusing on iris recognition technology. Eyesmart holds independent intellectual property rights to iris recognition products and application solutions for high tech companies.
In movie Mission Impossible, when Tom Cruise is assigned a new mission, he needs to get his ID confirmed by drawing near to a device with red light scanning over his eye. That is Iris Recognition Technology, which is accurate and precise in ID recognition because people’s irises are unique and will not change over time.Forgery and counterfeiting are made difficult.
Passwords, fingerprints recognition, face recognition…the technology for identification has been changing dramatically . Nowadays, the technology which used to exist only in movies has become real-life products such as iris recognition locks and cellphones, we are already at the threshold of Iris Recognition Times .
Wang Xiaopeng demonstrated a sample iris cellphone in Wang Jing Overseas Students Pioneer Parks in Beijing. Different from traditional unlocking methods, like passwords or fingerprints unlocking, this cellphone can be unlocked merely by a blink from its owner.
As Wang Xiaopeng explained, the iris is a circular structure between the black pupil and white sclera in the eye, which contains many detailed features like spots, threads, coronary shapes, stripes, and crypts. Eighteen months after infants are born, their irises will not undergo any environmental changes in their lifetimes. Compared with other identification technologies, like fingerprints and face recognition, iris recognition is contactless, more precise and unable to be replicated, which means it performs much better in recognition and encryption.
“Almost everyone believes iris recognition needs to get your eye close to the recognition device, well, it’s actually a myth generalized from some Hollywood blockbusters. The iris camera designed by Eyesmart Technology can adjust its angle automatically according to the heights of the users, the maximum image-grabbing distance reaches as far as 15 meters from the camera. Thus, Iris recognition can be done by a single blink from the users.” Wang Xiaopeng said, besides the improvement on recognition distance and speed, Eyesmart Technology takes the lead in overcoming the obstacles of miniaturizing iris devices, dramatically cutting the cost of production, and developing cellphone-based iris recognition system.
Now, Eyesmart Technology owns more than 50 independent intellectual property rights and patents.
In 1999, with the flowering of electronics and information technology in China, Wang Xiaopeng was admitted to the Department of Electronics and Information in HUST. After his graduation, Wang Xiaopeng went to the Signal and Image Processing Lab of Bath University in UK and attained a doctoral degree of digital image processing in 2006. Also, he participated in the Sixth Framework Programme for Research of European Robotics Association. Furthermore, he worked in the headquarters of ARM (Acorn RISC Machine) in Cambridge. Then, he worked in the upstream R&D headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell.
In 2008, the Chinese Olympic Committee invited Wang Xiaopeng as an expert advisor during Beijing Olympics. When Wang Xiaopeng came back to China with his team members, he was taken aback by the drastic change happened in Beijing. China initiated The Thousand Talents Plan at the end of 2008, bringing in lots of overseas top talents to China.
Like any entrepreneur who craved success, Wang Xiaopeng began to think about embarking on some new career. “I thought I should give it a shot, I was 28, all I wanted to do was to see if I can also be somebody before I was 35.” He said with smile.
After an in-depth conversation with his partner Xu Hefei, they spent some time on a weekend and wrote a business plan. On Christmas Eve of 2010, Wang Xiaopeng boarded a flight to China.
“Iris recognition was considered as the most promising technology for biometric identification in 21st century. It was highly commercialized overseas while barely used in China. I got sufficient technology reserve and human resources. I believed it’s worth the stretch.”
Since returning to China in 2010, Wang Xiaopeng created EyeSmart Technology Ltd in Beijing. The company is mainly engaged in iris biometric algorithm, software, products, EyeCloud research and development and the iris SoC chip design.
With years of efforts, together with his team members, he miniaturized the iris recognition devices of dictionary size to mung bean size. Also, the price of such devices decreased from tens of thousands yuan to several hundred yuan, which democratized iris recognition technology.
In the areas of medicine, aviation, and finance, an iris recognition product costs tens of thousands. While in 2014, Eyesmart Technology released a product called secret box together with JD (Chinese e-commerce giant) crowdfunding platform. When Secret Box is connected to a computer, the users can encrypt via iris camera instead of using traditional passwords. What’s notable is its minimum price is only 199 yuan.
“Everyone got accounts and passwords, the traditional encryption is time-consuming and obnoxious. It’s very likely to get into trouble. I myself forgot the password of my doctoral dissertation in 2003, that’s very disturbing for me.” Wang Xiaopeng said, the initial iris recognition product was as big as an Oxford dictionary, is was believed that size was almost the limitation on miniaturizing, but they never gave up and determined to design a democratized miniature iris product for an affordable price.
When cooperating with the Minister of Public Security of PRC, Wang Xiaopeng found that China suffered pervasive child-trafficking. In 2012, Eyesmart Technology established a database of children’s irises with Tongren Hospital. Parents can take their children to special hospitals for iris recognition, and the data will be uploaded to the public security bureau’s database. Now we can identify the lost children by scanning irises. This application is supported by the Clinton Foundation and free to the public.
In 2014, Eyesmart Technology first released an iris recognition hardware product, iris recogniton USB flash drive. At the beginning of 2015, Eyesmart released iris recognition cellphone and laptop with Intel Corp., Lenovo Corp..It also cooperate with Minsheng Bank which plans to provide a comprehensive solution for iris recognition financial transactions.
This is what Wang Xiaopeng pictured about future scenarios, a world where people can withdraw cash in front of an ATM or go through security check at the airport only with his iris recognized, people open the door only with a blink.
What role will Eyesmart Technology play in a world like that? Wang Xiaopeng said, in the age of desk-top, many technological products are labelled Intel Inside, while in the age of iris recognition, he expects all the iris products in different areas are labelled Eyesmart Inside.