Search queries on coronavirus exceeded 1 billion during the Chinese New Year as users came to Baidu for fact-checking and to find more reliable information on COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.
Query volume for health care rose 35% in December. By analyzing the queries, Baidu can see not only see the growth in questions being asked relative to coronavirus, but also search growth in other verticals.
Perhaps that’s why developers at the Chinese search engine leveraged its facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology to create a way to remotely screen the body temperature of humans.
The fever-screening system is being used for railway stations, hospitals and municipal buildings across China. The technology remotely measures the temperatures of up to 200 people per minute, and can detect body temperature even when people wear face masks and hats. It also identifies those who are not wearing the masks properly.
Baidu CEO Robin Li said during a call with analysts on Friday that the near term-impact on the company’s business has been “negative,” but it is doing everything possible to support the flow of information to stop the threat of a pandemic.
One step has been to open-source its AI model to further help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Another is a free healthcare consultation platform on its app to allow people to access physicians online. The operational team is partnering with medical experts to provide information on coronavirus to make timely and reliable information available to the public.
Baidu Maps is providing information on infected cases through data to track population migration and predict the spread of the epidemic in China.
The company also pledged RMB 300 million toward to support these efforts, provide awareness, education and improve public health in China.