UK Government Stops China Licensing Advanced Vision Sensor Technology

Jaime E. Love

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The UK government has used the National Security and Investment Act 2021 to stop a Chinese company from licensing vision sensor technology from the University of Manchester.

The so-called “Final Order(Opens in a new window)” was issued by Kwasi Kwarteng(Opens in a new window), Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and blocked Beijing Infinite Vision Technology Company Ltd. from securing a license for the SCAMP vision sensor(Opens in a new window). More specifically, the company wanted access to the SCAMP-5 and SCAMP-7 variants of the technology.

SCAMP integrates a parallel processor array into an image sensor. By doing so, on-sensor computations can be executed at high speed while using very little power, therefore allowing a variety of vision algorithms to be performed very quickly. The end result is an extremely compact and efficient, but fully-programmable computer vision system capable of real-time image processing at 100,000 fps(Opens in a new window).

Beijing Infinite Vision Technology describes itself(Opens in a new window) as delivering “realistic still image, animation and virtual reality for residential cultural and commercial projects” while specializing in architectural visualization. However, Kwarteng believes the technology offered by the university has dual-use applications and “there is potential that the technology could be used to build defense or technological capabilities which may present national security risk to the United Kingdom.”

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As the transfer of intellectual property to the company would introduce a risk to national security, it has been blocked. It’s also unclear why Beijing Infinite Vision Technology wanted the vision technology when its stated focus is on producing still images, animation, and VR.

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