At the 2021 World VR Industry Conference, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the preparation of the "Action Plan for the Integration and Development of Virtual Reality and Industry Applications". In November 2022, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the National Radio and Television Administration, and the General Administration of Sport of China jointly released the Action Plan for the Integration and Development of Virtual Reality and Industrial Applications (2022-2026). The five departments have given detailed guidance and deployment to the key areas of the integration and development of virtual reality and industrial applications in the next five years, and continue to promote the rapid development of China's virtual reality industry. It is expected that by 2026, Virtual reality technology will achieve large-scale application in important industries in society. The future has come, and Shenzhen CAMSENSE Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as CAMSENSE) Camsense is an excellent example of the digital intelligent era.
Shenzhen Special Zone Daily
A long story of the entrepreneurship of a Tsinghua student
As a national level specialized and innovative "little giant" enterprise that just settled in Longhua District last year, CAMSENSE has effectively enjoyed the rental support policy in Longhua District. Located next to the Shenzhen North station, the office environment on the whole floor of the office building is spacious and simple. In the clean and tidy office, we met Zhou Kun, the founder and CEO of Huanchuang Technology, who is elegant and easy-going. A pleasant exchange and interview started here.
The concept of Metaverse, which first appeared in the novels in the 1990s, has swept again in recent years, and stepped into people's daily topics in an accelerated way, subtly changing our lives. The heated discussion about VR/AR under the public's focus continues, and there is no doubt that the 21st century is a new era of technological revolution and an intelligent era full of expectations.
Zhou Kun graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree from Tsinghua University and pursued a graduate degree in the Department of Automation at Tsinghua University, majoring in Computer Vision and Image Analysis. During his postgraduate studies, he had the idea of starting a business. Zhou Kun talked about the history of entrepreneurship and expressed many emotions. After graduation, he has been focusing on related work in his professional field, from binocular vision technology that was only applied in television scenes to motion recognition and positioning technology using body sensing cameras. However, due to the immature technology market in China at that time, the overall technology in related fields was still in its infancy, resulting in high investment costs and cycles for the enterprise. Nevertheless, Zhou Kun's early entrepreneurial career allowed him to accumulate rich practical experience and gain a deeper understanding of the domestic market. After several twists and turns, Zhou Kun was unwilling to give up his exploration and love for his professional field, and CAMSENSE was born.
Moving back to 2014, the prelude to the innovation of the Internet of Things has slowly begun, and the VR craze has suddenly arrived like a spring breeze overnight. The speed of technological innovation iteration has also entered a new era. CAMSENSE, which emerged as the times require, has been focusing on visual spatial positioning technology since its inception and has been committed to the research and development of high-precision positioning visual sensors, aiming to provide core technology and product support for various artificial intelligence applications. Behind the company profile is the dream of a Tsinghua student who perseveres.
As Zhou Kun said, true entrepreneurship begins with a solitary and courageous mindset. At first, there was no confidence in strategic planning and a clear positioning that was infallible. Although there were high voices from the outside world, the pace and degree of development in the entire industry always require a cycle, and only mature and complete products are the hard prerequisites for enterprise development.
Under the wave of virtual heat in the market, many companies have gone from being surrounded by halos to being ignored. This tortuous process is an indescribable journey for every entrepreneur who comes out. CAMSENSE has come to this day with a rigorous professional attitude in a chaotic environment.
In the process of devoting himself to entrepreneurial exploration in the past few years, Zhou Kun discovered that the visual spatial positioning technology developed by the company can be applied to more scenarios. Therefore, the company quickly seized the opportunity to enter the market, and since then, has successfully entered the fast track.
CAMSENSE, which was originally unknown, has now stood at the top of the highly anticipated industry. At present, the company has more than 130 core algorithms and chip patents with fully independent intellectual property rights, and has obtained more than 60 authorizations. It is the first enterprise in China to have the ability to achieve monocular large spatial submillimeter positioning accuracy, and the first enterprise in the industry to independently develop spatial positioning algorithm chips.
Thick accumulation and thin hair, big waves washing through sand, eventually turning into gold
Since 2016, China's 13th Five Year Plan first proposed to strengthen research on related technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, natural interaction, and virtual reality, supporting core technology breakthroughs and product application innovation. The domestic VR/AR technology field has seen leapfrog technological breakthroughs and development. This year is also widely regarded as the first year of intelligence.
After careful exploration and technological accumulation in the first three years, CAMSENSE has officially entered the starting point of the second stage of development, and has also ushered in a substantial market turning point. Since 2017, the company has gradually clarified its core business direction, continuously invested in research and development to achieve technological innovation, and the company's products have also begun to enter the market.
The in-depth insight into the market made Zhou Kun realize that the combination of LiDAR and his expertise in visual spatial positioning technology can effectively stimulate potential commercial landing scenario applications. So, the company focused its attention on the field of intelligent robots, which many companies were not optimistic about at the time, and made a key layout.
The technological innovation of CAMSENSE in the field of laser radar began in 2017. The company adopted the technical solution of array consumer sensor chip+self-developed ASIC chip (equipped with exclusive core image algorithm), opening up a new route in the field of laser radar, and it is also the only company to mass produce array sensor Structured light ranging methods. In 2018, the Camsense X1 monocular LiDAR product began mass production, with monocular spatial positioning accuracy reaching below 1mm; In 2019, the company independently developed its first parallel chip Camsense C1 ; In 2020, the Camsense X2 upgraded product was launched... CAMSENSE' iteration speed in the field of LiDAR is getting faster and faster.
Facts have proven that opportunities belong to people with foresight. According to external data from the company, in 2021, the shipment volume of CAMSENSE LiDAR exceeded the million level, and in 2022, the shipment volume continued to climb by over 50%. By the peak period of a single month this year, it had achieved sales of several hundred thousand LiDARs. Nowadays, CAMSENSE has become a leading supplier in the global field of sweeping robots and lidars, leading the future direction of the industry.
In the field of laser radar, being able to catch up and stay at a leading position in the industry, "the essence still lies in the product itself. We have a strong competitive advantage in the market through technological innovation that leads the market and the stable performance of mass production and manufacturing of products." Speaking of the company's current main business, CEO Zhou Kun is very proud.
In the global VR field, there are only a few companies that have the core technology of monocular vision 6DoF VR handle positioning and visual tracking, and CAMSENSE has also entered the first tier brands with its outstanding advantages in unit space positioning algorithm. At present, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Sony, Apple and other well-known enterprises at home and abroad have jumped into the VR track. As a technology company with cutting-edge technology, Zhou Kun hopes that the company's visual space technology can also create greater social value in the future VR market.
Riding the Wind and Waves to Boost the Digital Economy
In 2018, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the "Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Development of the Virtual Reality Industry", empowering the industry with policy power and promoting new development opportunities for the intelligent industry from "virtual" to "real". In the same year, CAMSENSE completed Series A financing and introduced Series A+financing in 2019.
I have been focused on entrepreneurship for 9 years, and it is more about emotions than obsession. In 2020, the company built its own intelligent manufacturing factory in Pingshan District and put it into production and operation to better ensure product quality and performance. This is a milestone in the company's development, entering the third important stage of development.
If the development of enterprises is based on results, it is also a natural thing to gain the favor of capital. In 2021, CAMSENSE completed a B-series financing amount of over 200 million yuan; In 2022, complete the C1 round of financing, with shareholders including industry giants such as Goertek and HTC. There are also plans to go public in the future, "Zhou Kun revealed.
For a technology company, technology is the most fundamental support. CAMSENSE currently has over 600 employees, with over 70% of its headquarters personnel being R&D personnel, with one-third of them being XR R&D. The annual investment in technology R&D accounts for 15-20% of the total revenue, indicating the importance it attaches.
Currently, CAMSENSE has successfully built an industry solution system with "visual spatial positioning technology" as the core and LiDAR, XR spatial positioning system, and high-precision positioning system as carriers. It has the technical advantages of multimodal sensor fusion algorithm, multi-scene fusion algorithm, and visual environment perception algorithm. Its algorithm technology and research and development capabilities have been highly recognized both inside and outside the industry, and its products reach customers including Stone, Xiaomi A series of well-known brand enterprises such as Chase have been selected for the national "specialized, refined, and innovative" list of small giant enterprises.
In the national "14th Five Year Plan", VR/AR is listed as a key industry for the development of the digital economy, strongly promoting the construction of "Digital China". In 2023, when the social and industrial structure has undergone tremendous changes, the development process of the Metaverse has become a reality. The application scenarios have accelerated their landing and extension. As an important necessary hardware of the Metaverse, VR/AR has great potential for future development of the industry.
Good winds rely on strength. Zhou Kun is very optimistic about his future role positioning in the industry, optimistic about the long-term development of VR/AR, and always firmly committed to becoming a "spatial positioning technology provider". With the policy wings of the digital economy, the well-established Huanchuang Technology will inevitably ride the wind and waves, making the company's vision of becoming a leading global computer vision spatial positioning technology company a reality.
Zero Distance Dialogue
Dialogue with Zhou Kun, CEO of CAMSENSE
Reporter: What are the competitive advantages of our domestic products compared to foreign products in this segmented field?
Zhou Kun: Compared to foreign enterprises, we Chinese people have always been more diligent. In some low-level technical aspects, we may lag behind foreign countries, but in terms of application, China's learning ability is absolutely leading. Secondly, the domestic local industrial ecology can quickly form a systematic and large-scale system. Looking at the support and achievements of localization in recent years, it can be seen that China's industrial regeneration ability is very strong. China's technology in some fields has always been developing by leaps and bounds, such as robotics and the internet. China was a latecomer, but now the overall development level of the industry has surpassed that of foreign countries, and the future trend is also very obvious.
Reporter: How does the company expand its industry market?
Zhou Kun: Firstly, choosing the right direction is the key issue. Doing the right thing at the right time is the most important thing; Secondly, ensure that technology is the most competitive in the segmented field, and without core technology, everything is empty talk and difficult to sustain; Thirdly, products should stay ahead of the market. Products are based on the market and provide value and services to society. To create valuable products, enterprises must innovate and develop, which is also the viewpoint we have always adhered to.
Reporter: What do you think of the business environment in Shenzhen?
Zhou Kun: Overall, the business environment in Shenzhen is very good, with transparent and efficient handling of affairs, and frequent interaction with enterprises. It has indeed provided a lot of help to enterprises. For example, when we moved from Longgang to Longhua this time, we enjoyed the rent preferential policy provided by the government.