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System Platform Research Laboratories

September 10, 2021

Producing Creative Platform Technologies by Linking Communication and AI

At the System Platform Research Laboratories, we are conducting research to create innovative platform technologies based on computing and communication technologies. Our mission is to increase the points of contact between the cyber world and the real world to deepen collaboration.
Currently, for the shift to high speed and large capacity with 5G and Beyond 5G as well as autonomy, expandability, and other forms of operational efficiency, to apply AI related technologies are attracting attention in communication. Meanwhile, communication technology has also become essential for connecting multiple AIs in the areas of AI and data science. AI and communication are both important technologies that are now as if two sides of the same coin. NEC has continued to conduct research in computing and communication area since 1977 under the banner of "C&C (Computer & Communication)" and currently also strong AI related technologies has been added to produce various world-class technologies.
For example, we are currently developing technologies that maximize QoE (Quality of Experience), which is attracting attention as a new evaluation indicator of communication quality. QoE is an evaluation indicator that focuses on the quality experienced by the users of an application. It may also be rephrased as the degree of satisfaction felt by users. It significantly differs from past indicators that simply evaluated communication with a focus on communication speed only. In the case of remote control for autonomous driving, QoE indicates whether the video sent from the onboard cameras is delivered to the control system at a level which is suited to the intended use such that the vehicle can actually be controlled. Importance is placed on the ability to communicate and control based on the application characteristics and respond from end-to-end in a stable manner as a result. Communication speed and other past indicators are nothing more than simply the part of elements and conditions that make up QoE. The System Platform Research Laboratories are focusing on QoE and developed a video transmission technology that, for example, automatically determines and sharpens the area of interest within a video and compresses the other sections. As a result, the technology is able to continue to properly determine the conditions in the remote location even in an environment where the communication capacity is limited and fluctuating. This technology was actually equipped in a system that monitors self-driving buses from a remote location and successfully completed a demonstration experiment.
In addition, another field that we excel in is large capacity optical communication. NEC has a global share of close to 30% in undersea communication. Cross- bordered data utilization is advancing on a global level, and undersea communication requires even greater capacity. However, the power provided from land has already reached its limits, and a solution to this problem is needed throughout the world. At the System Platform Research Laboratories, we are developing innovative technologies in this field as well such as technologies that achieve significant power saving by reusing the light within the optical amplifiers installed on the ocean floor in addition to developing technologies that increase the transmission capacity of each optical fiber.

Additional Focus on Quantum Computing and Robotics

At the System Platform Research Laboratories, we are engaged in cutting-edge core research such as quantum computing, quantum sensors, and spin thermoelectrics. NEC has conducted research on quantum computing since the 1990s and was the first company in the world to successfully develop solid-state quantum devices. We have built on those technologies and that know-how and are currently accelerating research in collaboration with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). With the goal of developing technologies that could lead to a breakthrough directed at the practical use of high-performance quantum computers, we are expanding the team and conducting research.

Robotics linked through communication is another research theme that we are focusing on. We are working on highly robust "networked robotics" which can dynamically handle environmental information and its changes captured by sensors installed in the surrounding environment. We have successfully completed numerous demonstration experiments such as the autonomous control of handling robots within warehouses, the automation of construction machinery at construction sites, etc. by linking the network robotics to AI technologies that predict the surrounding environment. Amidst concerns about the labor shortage due to the decreasing birth rate and aging population, we will expand the social implementation of robots that can carry on the techniques and know-how of experts.
In addition to such technologies, we are also conducting a wide range of research aimed at green innovation to achieve sustainable social development such as the development of environmentally-friendly bio plastics that are beautifully lacquered and cooling technologies with a low environmental load that do not use freon as global attention focuses on climate change and achieving carbon neutrality, etc. Such diversity is also one of our strengths.
We will continue to develop innovative platform technologies that link the cyber and real worlds by deepening our collaboration with specialists from other research areas such as the Data Science Research and Secure System Research.