BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- In 2012, Dr. Cui Yan, who was only 28 years old at that time, was already a senior researcher at the well-known German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence. Born in the 1980s and having worked hard to establish himself in Germany, Dr. Cui had owned a house and a car for long while living happily with his wife, his children and his dog. He could have settled for a life of stability. However, in the autumn of that year, an idea came to Dr. Cui’s mind, “I’m about to be 30. Maybe I should do something. How about returning my home country to give it a shot?”
In the winter of 2013, in its pursuit to attract talents, Guangdong Province launched the “100 PhDs Touring South Guangdong” event, starting from Zhuhai, passing through Zhongshan, Shenzhen and so on, roughly following the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping in his 1992 inspection tour in Southen China. Tempted by the entrepreneurial opportunities in China, Cui Yan enrolled in the tour without further ado. According to a popular saying, “opportunities are always reserved for the well-prepared.” However, this time around, opportunity came for Dr. Cui, someone who was totally unprepared to garner a rich gift at the first stop of the “South Guangdong Tour”.
“Moments after I reached Zhuhai with my partners, I was persuaded by some local officials to stay. We had a meeting with the officials in the morning and the investment promotion bureau brought us the business license in the afternoon! That’s super fast!” Dr. Cui leaned forward with excitement as he talked about this startling experience.
In 2014, Dr. Cui leased his house, sold his car, bid farewell to Frankfurt where he had lived for seven years and came to settle in Zhuhai, where he had no friends or relatives, only his family and his dog. He founded the company “4DAGE” with a couple of his PhD friends who had also returned from overseas. It was a high tech innovative enterprise focusing on three-dimensional (3D) digital reconstruction and digital virtual display technologies.
Why did he name the company “4DAGE”? Cui Yan explained, “If the world is a three-dimensional one, the world being seen and expressed by computers should also be three-dimensional. If we add a dimension of time to the three dimensional world to animate the model, we will be able to display a brilliant four-dimensional extravaganza of life.”
“The algorithm developed by our team is a super precise, fully automated 3D digital technology operated with a click of a button. It will enable a simple and convenient way of operation that everyone can master. It will clone items in reality to the virtual space,” said Cui Yan.
“The algorithm uses bionics to simulate the cognitive processes of human brains. We use cameras to take multi-angle pictures of the objects, the process of which is similar to human beings using their eyes to observe their surroundings. Two dimensional photos can reversely turned into engineer 3D data and information.”
This young scientist is renowned both at home and abroad in the field of computer vision and 3D digitalization. He is also the first author for dozens of articles published in top international journals in the areas of artificial intelligence and computer vision. He hopes that he can help smart devices to see this world better and restore the true image of the world, using what he has learned in computer vision.
Within three years of Dr. Cui’s return to China, his wishes grew into something spectacular.
Relying on its core technologies, 4DAGE won countless prizes, including national second place for the Chinese youth APP competition organized by the Central Committee of China Communist Youth League. Not long ago, 4DAGE was selected as the designated virtual reality technology provider for the China Pavilion at the World Expo 2017 Astana Kazakhstan.
More than 30 core patents are the pride of this enterprise. These technologies have been ubiquitously applied in art works, industries, portraits, clothes and e-commerce with a broad market prospect and market evaluation reaching over 100 million yuan in the first year of operation.
For example, the three dimension digital reconstruction technology developed by 4DAGE is a real favorite of museums. The technology has reached micron precision and is able to digitally process artifacts and to “store” those artifacts in the three dimensional world. The Forbidden City, Dunhuang Mogao Caves and Han Dynasty Duke of Haihun Digital Museum are the completed cases.
Long-term engagement in research and development of artifact digitalization has made Dr. Cui almost a museum expert.
“If you look carefully into the cultural heritage along the ancient Silk Road, you will find similarities in many places, which indicates that the civilizations of the countries on the Silk Road were already engaging in exchange and integration,” he pointed out.
With a very inquisitive mind, Dr. Cui believes that if we can build a series of digital cultural museums along the Belt and Road and create digital story tellers as cultural interpreters, it will be more convenient to promote cultures to people along the Belt and Road. “It is just like when one makes a new friend, one is curious about his past,” said him.
To install “eyes and brains” on robots and robot arms is the pioneering work of 4DAGE. On June 1, 2017, witnessed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 4DAGE and German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence held a grand signing ceremony. The two organizations will now combine their forces to develop the next-generation computer vision and AI technology for industrial application.
From studying abroad to coming back to China to start his own enterprise and then expand his business around the world, Dr. Cui Yan and his friends are following their dreams and striding in their entrepreneurial journeys. Improved business and investment environment in China and Zhuhai’s talent policy have filled them with confidence.
As the wind caresses Dr. Cui standing on the Yelidao Bridge, he wonders how Zhuhai looked like in the past, “back then, only a small section of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge had been completed, but now it is going to open for traffic soon.”
The development speed has always been phenomenal. (Reporter: Chen Yu)
In-depth cooperation between the AI computing vision algorithm independently developed by 4DAGE and an internationally renowned robotics enterprise (Photo by Li Jianshu)