Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Tokyo to attend the NTT R&D Forum 2017, an annual showcase of the innovative technologies and products developed at NTT’s research labs worldwide.

The theme of this year’s event was “Open the Way” – Towards 2020 and Beyond. The three-day event took place in the NTT R&D center in Musashino, Tokyo.

While many different disciplines and fields were featured at the event, much of the futuristic research shared a common theme: creating and developing technologies that will be deployable and usable in 2020 and beyond. More than 6,000 attendees experienced and interacted with the new technologies. Not only was the NTT R&D Forum 2017 an occasion to show ground-breaking research to the NTT’s customers, business partners and employees but the event also allowed NTT researchers and engineers spread out at the many different NTT laboratories and operating companies throughout Europe, the United States, Japan, Africa and elsewhere, to explore exhibits, attend lecture sessions and workshops, see and share their research with one another and equip themselves with knowledge and insights.

On a personal level, I felt like a kid in a candy store, a geek in her element. Exhibit after exhibit, presentation after presentation – I could see how people’s lives will be so dramatically different in 2020 – with new technologies designed to manage our relationships with physical things and beyond. As technology reshapes the global innovation landscape at an exceedingly faster pace, a whole new world of previously inconceivable potential is being opened right before our eyes. I believe we are at the cusp of revolutionary changes that could reconfigure the way we live, work and play.

Ranging from our immersive telepresence technology Kirari to our AI and related technologies brand-named Corevo, to breakthroughs in networking and IoT security, to basic research in nanotechnology and energy efficiency, the astounding array of exhibits was a testimony to the depth and breadth of NTT R&D’s vision and commitment to innovation. For NTT Group, the challenge lies in turning the innovation outputs into new applications, products, services and business models so that this core value of innovation lives up to its promise and potential.

 

Key Takeaways

Kirari: Immersive Telepresence Technology

Real-time, realistic transmission of Judo match and Kabuki performance using surround videos

  • Kirari reproduces life-sized images using a combination of low delay MMT, HD video sticking, real-time image segmentation and acoustic images embedded within video images
  • Reproduction of holographic images, with wide viewing angle.
  • Application in sports, entertainment, live streaming.

Sports Training

Using sensors, AR/VR and analytics for training in cycling, tennis, soccer and baseball.

 

Corevo

NTT Group’s AI and related technologies have been brought together under the brand name Corevo.

  • The picture above demonstrates Corevo for drivers
  • Consists of a combination of three AI technologies
  • Agent AI that uses speech and image recognition, NLP/NLU to conduct a natural dialog with the driver.
  • Diver’s vital and biological information such as fatigue level and wakefulness is gather through sensors by heart-touching AI.
  • Ambient AI analyzes image and sensor data for travel condition and destination prediction, dangerous road conditions, etc.

Tacit computing: Network AI to find and connect with IOT devices

Contextual and situational awareness to dynamically choose appropriate devices.

  • This demonstration showed how Network AI dynamically connects with a variety of IoT devices such as cameras, microphones, thermometers, speakers etc. in response to user requests or device movements or based on a specific situation.
  • For example, it used images recognition to search for specific images captured through cameras. This can be used to follow a particular individual or search for a lost child by dynamically connecting with security cameras distributed across city streets.
  • Network AI can also be used by service developers as an IoT sharing platform.

Corevo for Living Rooms

Conversational AI using “anone R-env”

  • “anone R-env” is an autonomous speech interaction device that enables the home appliances to be controlled via the user’s voice commands.
  • It can also be used as a hands-free communication device.
  • It uses Corevo’s speech recognition and voice interaction engine, anone’s voice interface as well as R-env, which is a cloud-based application development and execution environment.

 

 

Collaborating Machine for Smart Factories

Amalgamation of edge computing and IoT data sharing technologies

  • This demonstration showed the use of edge computing and FIELD (FANUC Intelligent Edge Link and Drive) system to share data collected from various machines in a smart factory.
  • Various machine tools deployed in a factory such as CNC laser, robotic machines and sensors are the edge devices that collect the data. It is then shared using the IoT data sharing platform in a low latency mode.
  • The system can be used in smart factories for monitoring the manufacturing process for anomaly detection as well as to enhance productivity in a smart factory using machine learning.

Prevent spoofing between IoT devices even when offline

ID based encryption and pairing encryption powered by Milagro

  • Identity (ID)-based encryption and pairing encryption technologies enable validation/invalidation of certificates amount IoT devices. This ensures that only permitted IoT devices are allowed and malicious devices are shut down.
  • One use case where this was demonstrated involved using drones for collection and delivery of packages. A delivery drone delivers cargo to a secure delivery box. The technology issues appropriate certificates to drones and prevents a malicious drone from accessing the cargo.

Contextual AI 

Language translation, web design conversion

  • This is similar to Google translate or Microsoft Translate where a smart phone camera can be used to translate food information in convenience stores from Japanese to other languages.
  • There were other exhibits that optimized web contents automatically. Geared towards the foreign tourists and the aging population in Japan, these exhibits demonstrated Web design conversion techniques to make the contents easier to understand by providing simple explantations or supplementary information.
  • One use case was a web converter that could be used on websites as well as store front displays, wall surface displays, and desk tablet terminals in stores etc. to dynamically convert Japanese dishes in a restaurant menu into English and provide helpful explanation of the dishes themselves.

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