Aug 26, 2010
Here’s a summary of a series of articles I posted over at CrunchGear earlier this week. The occasion: as the first international blogger, I was guided through a special tour of Japanese telecommunications giant giant NTT‘s showroom NOTE [JP] in Tokyo (where I live) last week.
And I can confirm they do have some pretty cool tech. The showroom offers demonstrations for over a dozen of different “next-generation” technologies, but the videos I took focus on these four areas: telemedicine, digital signage, Home ICT, and remote collaboration (hit the links to go to the more detailed posts on CrunchGear).
Demo 1: Telemedicine
The advanced telemedicine solution NTT is showing at its showroom is currently being used by 19 institutions in Japan.
The difference between the telemedicine system set up in the showroom and those used outside is that the former can transfer video in high resolution. In the video embedded below, you can see how an NTT employee “performs” remote pathological diagnosis of cells through a monitor connected to a microscope that’s located in a hospital that doesn’t have a pathologist.
In the demo, the data transfer is being handled by NTT’s proprietary next-generation network (NGN), a high-performance optical fiber network launched in 2008.
Demo 2: Digital Signage
NTT has developed an “intelligent” digital signage system that not only detects the presence of human beings but also takes into account how many people are standing in front of it. For example, if two persons approach the display in the restaurant floor of a shopping mall, a camera installed in the ceiling right above the system immediately detects their presence.
But instead of randomly displaying ads, the system pulls information from restaurants in its network and offers up ads only for those that currently have enough space for two people. The system also detects if a person tries to walk away and reacts accordingly (“Wait, there’s more.”). It’s possible to get discount coupons on your mobile phone through the system, too.
The first video below shows the digital signage system itself, while the second highlights how it actually works:
Demo 3: Home ICT
Home ICT is another technology that makes use of NTT’s next-generation network. The idea here is to organize and control all devices and appliances people have in their houses through a cell phone, TV or other device via a single, unified “Home Gateway”.
Practical applications include energy management, remote health care solutions, entertainment (i.e. device agnostic, wire-/and cable-less and remote sharing of content), or or even crime and disaster prevention.
In the case of an earth quake, for example, users will be warned via a message on the TV screen while the system automatically cuts off all gas mains in the house. The system will even close the curtains for users.
The so-called remote collaboration apparatus “t-Room” is probably the demo with the biggest wow-factor. The t-Room is essentially a room that consists of multiple video screens and that’s connected to other t-Rooms to share audio and video content remotely (again, over NTT’s next-generation network).
The showroom has two t-Rooms to demonstrate how two or more people can interact with each other over shared video screens. Users see themselves (plus real or virtual objects) and the persons in the other t-room(s) at life-size and in real-time (it’s also possible to program a time lag).
The technology can be used for entertainment, remote education and collaboration, video conferencing, and other applications. Needless to say, all sessions can be recorded.
The main difference between the t-Room and conventional systems is that the t-room “overlaps” screens, removing (in a way) spatial barriers that separate users who are located far away from each other. And it looks much cooler, too (see the video I shot at the showroom below).
Many thanks to NTT Communications for organizing the NOTE tour.