No. 1 (October 2017) Special Issue on IoT That Supports Digital Businesses
Vol.12 No.1 (October 2017)
Leveraging our know-how in both IT and networking as well as our original leading-edge AI technology, NEC has worked closely with our clients to develop innovative IoT projects that are providing a blueprint for the future. That extensive experience has enabled us to build a core suite of IT and AI systems that provide an essential foundation for any type of IoT project. We call this NEC the WISE IoT platform.
In this special issue, we will zoom in for a close-in look at the NEC the WISE IoT Platform and other IoT solutions, examining how they have been successfully implemented by a variety of different businesses in a variety of different situations.
Special Issue on IoT That Supports Digital Businesses
Building on its experience in IoT and related projects, NEC is working to develop ICT-based Solutions for Society targeted at solving public policy issues with a view to helping achieve a more functional and sustainable society. In this paper, we will look at trends in digital business and highlight the core features that define a digital business based on our own extensive experience across a broad range of IoT projects. We will also provide an overview of our own industry-leading IoT platform - NEC the WISE IoT Platform - and look at representative co-creation programs where we have worked together with our clients to create new value using AI and IoT.
Platforms built to support IoT
“NEC the WISE IoT Platform” is the systematization of the functions that implement the IoT systems for the smooth advancement of customers’ digital technology businesses. It has an architecture that facilitates the easy-to-use implementation of “NEC the WISE”, which is a portfolio of NEC’s cutting-edge AI technologies. Based on the “5-Layer IoT Architecture Model”, this platform changes the required common functions into “building blocks” and combines them enabling implementation and linkage. Benefiting from various advantages including scalability/portability, connectivity of non-IT devices and compatibility with open sources, the platform may be customized according to the growth requirements of each customer’s business and serves for a speedy startup and the verification of new services.
In the IoT era, large amounts of “things” and “people” are interconnected. The data of “event” generated in the real world (Physical world) are processed on ICT platforms (cyber space) such as in cloud systems and then the processed results are sent back to the real world. Such a cycle of processing is then repeated. When visualization of data or analysis using AI are executed in this cycle, new knowledge that has not hitherto been noticeable can then be acquired. This enables the creation of new values and opens the way to a data-driven world in which data increases more than ever in importance. Looking ahead to such a data-driven world, this paper introduces customer values that can be provided by edge computing that makes use of ICT technologies and assets that NEC has been cultivating thus far.
ISHII Daiji, ITO Takahiro, ISOZUMI Atsuhiro
As a result of the advancement of IoT, the settings of its new applications, for which a real-time capability are required, are increasing. However, because of the response time and communication costs it is sometimes difficult to upload data from sensors and camera images to the cloud environment in order to perform analyses and actuations. A concept that is recently attracting attention as a solution to these issues is edge computing. Based on the concept that edge computing can expand the settings of IoT usage by complementing the cloud, NEC is advancing R&D into technologies suitable for its implementation. Among such technologies introduced in this paper are the autonomous distributed cooperative technology, edge engine acceleration platform and edge SW as well as the relevant IoT security procedures to be located at the edge.
YASUTAKE Hiroshi, KIMURA Shigeo, HANE Hidetaka
One of the objectives of edge computing is to provide the advantages of cloud computing in AI and big data processing while minimizing the use of IT resources in the real world. This paper introduces five cases of edge computing solutions offered by NEC. Two of the examples, the walkthrough face recognition system and the human behavior analysis service, perform image processing such as face recognition at the edge layer, then perform actuation at local or behavior analyses on the cloud. This paper also describes cases like use cases of beacons, collecting and visualizing temperature data via sensor with the edge computing and NEC’s activities to implement the solution with IoT smell/odor sensor.
IoT solutions that offer value to customers
At NEC, we have already standardized core systems at nine factories and have been moving ahead with the implementation of IoT with a view to further improving quality, cost, and delivery (QCD). Digitized hands-on data collected at manufacturing sites is uploaded to standardized mission-critical systems in cyberspace where it is first visualized, then analyzed and sent back to the originating manufacturing site. We anticipate that this commitment on our part will soon produce tangible results which our clients will be able to draw upon as reference data. By providing our clients with knowledge value, we are confident that we will be able to help propel Japanese industry into the IoT future. This paper outlines NEC’s Industrial IoT systems which systemize our technological strengths to create powerful and flexible solutions, suitable for a broad spectrum of applications. Several case studies are introduced that clearly demonstrate our achievements thus far in the IoT field.
KONDOH Katsuhisa, KOMINAMI Tomohiro, HIDAKA Yasushi
The demand for quality and speed of logistics is increasing year by year. In Japan, however, growing labor shortages are making it difficult to maintain the service levels required by workplace logistics. In particular, inspection work requires a significant amount of labor, which is difficult to replace with conventional technologies. Our proposed Warehouse Product Inspection System achieves improvements to inspection work and product quality simultaneously by making use of the NEC high-speed, high-accuracy image recognition technology. This paper is intended to introduce features of this technology.
In recent years, the pace of operations in the distribution industry has accelerated as demand for more frequent deliveries of smaller lots has become the norm. This has increased the complexity and difficulty of delivery tasks, leading to more demanding workloads and intense time pressure. With the availability of labor simultaneously decreasing, the most critical management issue facing the distribution industry today is the need to efficiently organize a limited number of staff and implement delivery tasks. Conventional staffing optimization methods based on traditional organizational protocols are no longer adequate in an environment where it is necessary to respond quickly to suddenly generated tasks and to fluctuations in work efficiency related to the physical condition of the staff. This paper introduces an original solution from NEC that uses our Autonomous and Adaptive Control technology to optimally manage warehouse staff to handle shipping tasks in real time.
The relationship between IoT, AI, and the network technology that connects it is often described using metaphorical comparisons with the brain, the nervous system, and the five senses. The Internet experience, for example, is shifting from one where user and media are isolated from one another, their interaction mediated by monitors and speakers, to one where technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are used to partially or totally immerse the user in a virtual physical space. A related concept - already in use - is called omnichannel, in which all potential communication channels - both physical and digital - are integrated to provide the customer with a seamless, flawless experience that combines real-world physicality with mobile convenience. Now, more and more people are talking about the coming wave of hearable technology, which goes beyond earbuds and hearing aids to advanced computational devices that you wear in your ear and which interface you with AI, robotics, and IoT, all without interfering with your activities in physical space. This paper introduces NEC-developed ear acoustic authentication technology and a geomagnetic indoor positioning system which will be core technologies of NEC’s hearable systems.
KANETOMO Dai, SATODA Kozo
New solutions that utilize video streaming are now being proposed in the area of public safety such as security services and emergency medical care. In the past, reliable video streaming required dedicated, high-cost communications facilities such as satellite communications and mobile base station vehicles, restricting utilization of this service. This paper discusses new Adaptive Video Streaming Control technology developed by NEC that can be applied to low-cost public communication networks that do not guarantee communication quality - such as mobile networks and the Internet - enabling them to reliably streaming high-quality video in real time. Also introduced in this paper is an application example involving special police units known as the “running police.” We believe that this technology will help raise the level of video streaming in the public safety field to one of practical usage and promote total utilization in the future.
NOTOMI Narumitsu, FUJII Maiko
The retail industry is facing a need for innovative solutions because it has to deal with the diversification of consumer lifestyles and labor shortages that are due to low birthrates and population aging. The global environmental issues that are inherent in the products offered are also of concern. NEC is making full use of its IoT and AI technologies in pursuit of good customer experience and in uninterrupted store operation by implementing improved convenience shopping, hospitality in customer services that matches the needs of individual customers, efficiency improvements and saving in the numbers of employees and store operations. It thereby supports shop management methods that can sustain a stable supply of merchandise and services.
TAKENAKA Takashi, HIDAKA Youichi
NEC has developed the “wireless ExpEther”, a networking technology that allows remote computers to perform real-time centralized control in the wireless environments of I/O devices such as sensors, actuators and displays at production sites. The production sites of factories are a harsh environment for wireless remote control because radio waves are often reflected or attenuated by metallic objects, which leads potentially to communication losses (en-route packet losses). Even in such environments the technology discussed below ensures stable wireless network connection between computers and I/O devices by means of “rateless coding.” This technology is capable of transmitting control signals and data between devices correctly and its development is expected to enable implementations of new functions based on merging industrial equipment and IT devices.
With the IoT systems that make use of data in the real world, the data collection from devices can also be a target of cyberattacks. It is because of this that countermeasures based on encryption are currently gaining in importance. Lightweight cryptography is an encryption method that features a small footprint and/or low computational complexity. It is aimed at expanding the applications of cryptography to constrained devices and its related international standardization and guidelines compilation are currently underway. Authenticated encryption that achieves both confidentiality and integrity has been attracting special attention and a technology competition called CAESAR has been held. NEC has developed TWINE, which is a lightweight block cipher, and OTR, which is an authenticated encryption method that has passed the CAESAR second-round selection.
UMEZU Keisuke, YAMADA So, MOTOHASHI Yousuke, OSADA Tsukasa
This paper describes our proof-of-concept (“PoC”) activities of demand forecasting. NEC is challenging the prediction of server demand using AI technology in order to prevent parts stock-outs at the same time as reducing the stock inventory at the Kofu Plant of NEC Platforms, Ltd. In order to render the demand prediction convincing for use, heterogeneous mixture learning, which is an NEC-original AI technology, is being applied so that the grounds for prediction can be presented together with the results of prediction. In addition, ethnography is adopted in the study technique with the aim of identifying the most effective situation for which the results or grounds for prediction can encourage decision making and for designing display styles.
IWAMOTO Kota, AKIYAMA Tatsuo
In January 2016, Japan introduced the Social Security and Tax Number System. Since then, all residents have been required to submit the number issued to them - nicknamed “My Number” - for all tax and social insurance procedures. One consequence of this is that employers must now collect the “My Numbers” of their employees and dependent family members. To address this, NEC Nexus Solutions has developed a smartphone app (for iPhone and Android) to collect “My Numbers.” This app takes advantage of our various image recognition technologies to enable “My Number” holders to handle their numbers more easily and more accurately by using their smart devices to read their numbers. This paper discusses what can be accomplished with our image recognition technologies today and what we can expect to accomplish in the future.