For Japan and elsewhere in the world, it will be innovation that unquestionably will resolve the issues we face in the future. Japan is committed to being the very first country to prove that it is possible to grow through innovation even when its population declines.
Japan is rapidly moving toward “Society 5.0”, adding a fifth chapter to the four major stages of human development: hunter-gatherer, agrarian, industrial and information. In this new ultra-smart society, all things will be connected through IoT technology and all technologies will be integrated, dramatically improving the quality of life.
To realize this new era, the Government of Japan is doing everything it can to encourage various players, including start-ups and “hidden gems” among small- and medium-sized enterprises, to come up with brand-new and innovative ideas, to provide the world with solutions.
THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF IoT COMMUNICATION
Implementing the Internet of Things（IoT）in business requires huge upfront investment. It is a barrier for SMEs and startups to develop IoT products or services, which has been long considered impossible. A Japanese rising startup invented a groundbreaking cloud-based platform. This technology significantly reduces the cost by replacing a core physical IoT infrastructure with a cloud-based service and is now opening up opportunities for smaller companies to launch creative and innovative IoT products and services. This new technology is igniting a social transformation, which can be called the democratization of the IoT.
DIGITAL FARMING MAKES AGRICULTURE SUSTAINABLE
There are various growing concerns over agricultural sustainability, including forecasted water shortages by 2030. In order to address this issue, a digital farming technology has been developed in Japan. Experienced farmers are able to use water and fertilizers more efficiently, thanks to their extensive experiences, knowledge and know-how. By utilizing the IoT and AI to collect and analyze data from their farming practices and the surrounding environment, this technology enables even inexperienced growers to implement such intangible techniques. It can improve agricultural productivity even in areas with limited access to water. This technology is expected to bring a huge change to the future of sustainable agriculture.
WORLD'S LATEST DEEP LEARNING
Manufacturing sites worldwide use industrial robots to streamline and automate operations. Japan has led the world in industrial robot technology, and now is about to spur an even greater evolution by combining this technology with an open source deep learning framework developed in Japan. Deep learning enables industrial robots to make judgments in complex operational situations by learning from past examples. Moreover, the learning can be shared between robots to increase efficiency. Watch this video to learn how this innovative approach will deliver previously unavailable levels of advanced automation in manufacturing.
A NEW APPROACH TO DRUG DISCOVERY
Therapeutic drugs for cancer and immune diseases are generally very expensive and often cause side effects. Use of non-standard peptides have been attracting considerable attention as a new approach to develop drugs with less side effects, but until now no one could find a way to create those peptides artificially. However, one Japanese company has successfully developed a revolutionary system called “Peptide Discovery Platform System”, or “PDPS”. PDPS enables humans to artificially create millions of different kinds of non-standard peptides and then narrow these peptides down to candidates for new drugs in short time. Watch this video to learn how this technology dramatically shortens the new drug development process and helps to significantly lower drug prices.
FUELING JET AIRCRAFT WITH MICROALGAE
Euglena, a type of algae, is a rare microorganism that combines the characteristics of plants and animals. Consequently, it grows by photosynthesis yet produces fat in its body that is suited to the production of jet fuel. In Japan, where researchers were the first in the world to succeed in large-scale cultivation of euglena, research is underway to use oil extracted from the microorganism as a biofuel, with the goal of using it to power aircraft in the future. As the need for energy that does not adversely impact the environment grows, expectations are high for the multifaceted potential of biofuel made from euglena that has been made possible by researchers in Japan, a nation that lacks energy resources.
FINGERPRINT AUTHENTICATION WITHOUT IMAGE DATA
When we use a credit card, it requires a PIN Code or a signature to complete the transaction, so it is a little inconvenient. Also, the possibility of unauthorized card use means it cannot be considered completely secure. For these reasons, biometric authentication is attracting attention as an alternative way to identify individuals and process payments. The newly developed fingerprint authentication technology, by which the feature points of each fingerprint are digitized and indexed by a proprietary algorithm and artificial intelligence (AI), eliminates the security risks associated with conventional technologies and realizes 300 times faster searches. This video introduces how this more secure and quicker identification method could change our everyday life.
AI TO ADVANCE REGENERATIVE MEDICINE
Regenerative medicine using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells has been attracting attention worldwide as a way to treat illnesses once thought difficult to treat. However, there are only limited numbers of researchers with the world-leading knowledge and skill needed to produce iPS-derived cells with a high enough quality to be used in the human body. Efforts are now being launched to use artificial intelligence (AI) to accumulate experiences of researchers who handle iPS cells and standardize them. This approach has the potential to ensure quality of mass-produced transplantable cells and to facilitate their distribution to more people, leading to the delivery of custom-made regenerative treatment for each patient in need at much lower cost.
Each week, 34 million people ride the Yamanote Line, which encircles Tokyo. As the trains run at 2-3 minutes intervals from early in morning till late at night, it is difficult to operate and manage the maintenance activity efficiently without interrupting train service. However, the introduction of smart maintenance using IoT technology allows the collection and analysis of enormous amounts of data from trains and rails in real time, making it possible to detect minor changes and to predict failures well in advance. As the issue of aging transport infrastructure attracts a new level of attention around the world, smart maintenance will offer a novel solution to keep infrastructure in safe condition.
RFID TECHNOLOGY FOR METAL PRODUCTS
Advances in technology have contributed greatly to improving productivity. One such technology, radio-frequency identification (RFID), has been widely used to track and monitor a variety of commercial items, significantly improving operational efficiency in many industries. However, RFID could not be used with metals until recently, resulting in time-consuming work manually tracking items at sites that handle metals. This video introduces the intriguing story of the development of a new RFID technology that can work with metals, with the potential to dramatically improve productivity in a wide range of logistics and manufacturing process.
When a person intends to move a part of her or his body, the brain sends nerve signals to the muscles. People with physical disabilities, whose nervous systems are damaged cannot send these signals reliably to the muscles, resulting in difficulties moving as they would like. Such disabilities have been considered difficult to treat until now. However, a newly developed “cybernic treatment”, revolutionary robot treatment system that will regenerate and improve the patient’s own brain-neuro-physical functions, has begun providing dramatic changes in patients’ abilities to move autonomously. Watch this video to learn how this system works.