Outlining a smart world vision: headlines from the NTT R&D Forum

by Joan Kuhrmann 

27 November 2020

Buildings taken from below

On average, over the last five years, NTT has invested US$3.6 billion in Research and Development (R&D) to address tangible innovations for real-world challenges and create a more connected future for people, society and the planet. This year, the flagship NTT R&D Forum event showcased some of the most exciting visions, new and disruptive technologies as part of the NTT Innovation Summit. Bringing together the latest thinking and innovation from Tokyo to Silicon Valley, the immersive online experience presented remarkable advances, use cases and future applications across AI, security, robotics, sustainability and technology research. Here’s a summary of what our subject matter experts want you to know.

The future of business is a sustainable business

The belief in a sustainable future is core to NTT’s vision and research on energy sources is a high priority. Energy distribution technology could provide a next-generation energy supply to meet the world’s growing demand for power. It’s designed to control and forecast the need for batteries to last longer and minimize the impact on utility services. This could also provide a next-generation energy supply to mitigate power outages and fluctuations, as ‘load shedding’ remains a concern in many countries.

The future of business is a sustainable business

Today, powering data centers requires up to 1.5% of our global electricity usage and this is expected to increase ten-fold by 2030. Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) is an initiative for networks and information processing infrastructure helping to create a more sustainable, data-driven, smart world. A forum of over 30 member companies, including NTT, Intel, Sony, Microsoft, Fujitsu, Dell, Oracle, Toyota, and more, is working together on the next generation of networking. Taking us beyond 5G, or even 6G, IOWN uses photonics, what could be described as fibre optics, turned into microchips to lower power consumption of computers by 100% and increase transmission capacity by 125%.

A key element of NTT R&D’s IOWN vision is the All Photonics Network, which favors optical path processing over electronic processing to achieve a highly available and low-latency network. The focus remains on the customer experience of reliable and low latent data transmission featuring codec and infrastructure advances.

The future smart society is data-centric

Advances with data-centric computing platforms can now utilize a single piece of data for multiple purposes and connect that data from various sources, creating new value and insight. Real-time data delivery from data owners to data consumers will also be a key component of future smart societies. The security and encryption of sensitive data and sovereignty remain critical, with secure data distribution, sharing and analytical applications coming to the fore.

Other new technologies are directed at reviving and adapting the global environment to help significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Last year, we saw carbon dioxide gas reduction technologies contributing to having zero environmental impact, including the artificial photosynthesis technology and plant genome editing technology, with even more developments to come shortly.

The area of healthcare and medical technology is unsurprisingly in sharper R&D focus

Prevention, health and wellness is a priority

It’s not surprising that the area of healthcare and medical technology is in sharper R&D focus, particularly in the areas of virus detection and prevention. There’s been gains made and plenty of research on digital twin and bio-digital twin technologies. A showcase on virus disinfection technology displayed a system delivering ultraviolet light using optical fiber technology to detect infection. With physical distant medical practices becoming more common, self-care and the ‘next-generation telestethoscope’ are on the horizon. Patients wear a stethoscope style device for online and visualized auscultation by a remote medical practitioner. The medical wearable offers acoustic sensors that transmit sounds from the chest to the doctor via a network, allowing the doctor to detect and prevent a disease from afar.

Learn more about how great ideas change the future by reading NTT Ltd.’s Future Disrupted: 2021 technology trends. 

Joan Kuhrmann

Joan Kuhrmann 

Senior Manager, Innovation and R&D Marketing