Monday, March 20, 2017

The NTT R&D Forum 2017: holograms, smart shirts and artificial co-driver in the fog

In February 2017, I was really appreciative of the fact that our parent company NTT invests heavily into research & development. The 6.000 researchers used the opportunity to show their latest innovations at the NTT R&D Forum 2017 in Tokyo. This year, I was hosting our customers from an automotive OEM, responsible for engineering and production IT. And we didn’t regret coming all the way from Germany to Tokyo – what an innovation festival.
The 3-day event took place in the NTT R&D center in Musashino, Tokyo – close to our NTT DATA headquarter with a stunning view over Tokyo. The construction works for the Olympic Games in 2020 are in progress and we are hoping for an open stadium right in front of our office.

Tokyo view from NTT DATA office – 36th floor


Immersive telepresence with Kirari

With this title, we weren’t prepared for what was presented. We took our places in a theatre-like room. As the lights were dimmed, a holographic judo match appeared on the stage, followed by a kabuki performance. The 3D visualization – without glasses – gave us a feeling as if we were there. Unfortunately, Youtube does not even come close to this experience – but take a look over here. When the lights came back, we realized that we are not on board of Star Trek and learned that a number of technologies are required for this stunt: source material in 4k resolution at 60 fps from multiple angles and surround audio, robust and accurate image extraction, fast streaming of the data from the remote location to the theatre, a very wide screen for a 180 degree view and video stitching for the reproduction of the images.


A wearable vital sensing fabric called Hitoe

And again, the title didn’t really prepare us for this innovation. Hitoe, a T-shirt with sensors for heartbeat, electrocardiogram waveforms and accelerometer data. After the wireless transmission through an IoT gateway system, the data can e.g. be used for health monitoring of workers at construction sites and automated industrial plants. Other use cases are in sports, have a look at the Indycar 500 racing car application of Hitoe.

Smart T-shirt Hitoe


Artificial intelligence for humans

Our next presenter was a cute little guy called Sota.

Pretty intelligent robot Sota – powered by corevo AI

In fact, he was built into a car and used his “heart-touching-AI” for natural dialogues and sensing the driver’s fatigue level. This led to motherly statements such as “It sounds like you did not sleep well yesterday. Do not push yourself, drive carefully.” It could also predict intentions of the driver (“Are you headed to Shin-Yokohama? There is a new curry shop”) and maintain a natural dialogue according to the driver’s situation. All this led to a very comfortable and safe drive.
One strength of corevo AI is the advanced audio processing with noise canceling that delivers clean signals required for robust speech recognition. In addition to improved audio conferences or call center applications, this technology was also used for anomaly detection in manufacturing processes. By filtering-out the noise from the actual manufacturing operation, the machine can be monitored and maintained more efficiently.


Fog computing on the edge

The Internet of Things was one of the focus topics at the NTT R&D Forum, bringing together our strengths in IT and communication technology. As IoT devices such as cars can produce massive amounts of data, fog computing uses intermediate ICT between the IoT devices and the cloud for pre-processing of data – the edge devices. We saw solutions for monitoring and Docker-based application delivery to the edge devices. We also saw an IoT data sharing platform based on the oneM2M, providing a unified interface to access the IoT data services from multiple domains.


Tokyo 2020

Of course, there were other things that the NTT colleagues were proud of and substantiating our claim of NTT DATA as the “Global IT Innovator”: IoT security could be greatly enhanced with multi-factor & continuous authentication, cyber threat analysis, spoofing prevention even when offline, IoT traffic anomaly detection etc..
But we are especially looking forward to the 5G mobile network technology with 375 Mbps, to be available in 2020. We then definitely need to check back on this in Tokyo and might also follow some Olympic events from our office window…

Note: cross-post from the NTT DATA blog at 

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