Displaying present location in the site.

Vol.16 No.1 (October 2021) Special Issue on Social Infrastructure that Guarantees Safety, Security, Fairness, and Efficiency

Vol.16 No.1 (October 2021)

Today, we find ourselves forced to confront various social issues, with people all over the world affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), natural disasters becoming more devastating and more frequent than ever before, and labor shortages caused by the declining birthrate and aging population.

NEC is poised to solve these domestic and global issues by driving digital transformation (DX) through the development and usage of technologies, including sensing technology to capture the movement of humans and objects as well as to visualize the conditions of social infrastructure.

In this special issue, NEC takes a look at how digital transformation (DX) is making an impact on public administration services, broadcasting, airports, and other infrastructure that support our social systems. We also show how sensing technology is extending our reach from the bottom of the sea to space, and introduce our solid research and development in cutting-edge infrastructure technology that can help shape the future.

Special Issue on Social Infrastructure that Guarantees Safety, Security, Fairness, and Efficiency

Remarks for Special Issue on Social Infrastructure that Guarantees Safety, Security, Fairness, and Efficiency

TAGUMA Noritaka
Executive Vice President

Building a World Where Everyone Can Enjoy Abundance and Well-being through Innovative Social Infrastructure Technologies

NAGANO Hiroyuki
Senior Vice President

Technologies for Achieving Digital Transformation (DX) of Social Systems: DX of Government and Administrative Services

The Future of Cloud in Promoting Digital Government

MOROFUJI Hiroaki, TANAKA Yusuke, HOTTA Yoshihiro, TOKUYAMA Shinichi, UTSUDA Takaki, AONO Akiko

In recent years, countries around the world, including Japan, have been accelerating progress towards the realization of digital government. NEC believes that the pursuit of an agile government capable of using existing systems without creating new ones and advancing rapidly from development to trial is the key to promoting digital government in Japan. This paper uses the example of initiatives led by Denmark — one of the most digitally advanced countries in the EU — to explain what agile government encompasses, explore current issues, and discuss the components and future prospects of NEC’s Government Cloud Solution for turning digital government into reality.

Supporting the Commitment of Local Governments to Digital Transformation (DX)

KURAMITSU Kazuhiro, IWATA Koichi, HASHIMOTO Toshinori

In recent years, the rapid evolution of broadband network technology, together with the widespread dissemination of ever more sophisticated smartphones and other electronic devices, has reached a point where traditional governmental administrative procedures that involve the signing and stamping of original paper documents seem out of step with contemporary practice. Eliminating paper and digitizing all administrative data make it possible to realize the huge performance gains that AI-enabled big data and other cutting-edge technology offer. Applications for digital data are expanding at a phenomenal pace, creating new value and providing a range of exciting new tools for management and administration.
In this context, we are committed to providing local citizen-facing public agencies with the support and the technologies they need to execute a successful digital transformation (DX). In this paper, we discuss the ways in which we are helping to standardize operations and implement and validate practical applications.

Collaborative Learning Support Solution Based on Speech Visualization

TABATA Futoshi , KATAOKA Toshiyuki , NAKAGAWA Sota, MAEDA Hiroki

In response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, businesses operating in the education sector that provide support for students, teachers, and learning itself are now actively seeking to develop new and more versatile systems for learning and teaching. NEC’s Smart School Business has developed a Collaborative Learning Support Solution designed to support and facilitate group activities in online learning such as remote active learning. By visualizing and analyzing various characteristics of an individual student’s speech (how often learning keywords appear, speech frequency and rate, etc.), this solution makes it possible to tailor instruction for each student.

Technologies for Achieving Digital Transformation (DX) of Social Systems: DX of Broadcasting Systems

Providing Video Platform Service as New Social Infrastructure to Facilitate Digital Transformation (DX) of Video Distribution


The management and distribution of video footage is shifting from analog tapes to digital files, and the mechanisms to do so are also changing dramatically. As a result, there is a need for service infrastructure that not only stores and transmits video footage, but also provides safe and secure video distribution DX with functions such as quality check, preview, and online transmission. This paper presents an overview of the Video Platform Service, a new social infrastructure for video distribution provided by NEC, and examines the main functions, technologies, and future prospects of the service.

New Video Coding Technology Provides the Foundation for the Forthcoming Digital Transformation (DX) of the Broadcasting Industry


Accounting for roughly 80 percent of Internet traffic, video data has become a ubiquitous feature of modern life, with the use of video extending to applications ranging from broadcasting to teleworking. What makes all of this possible is video coding technology which compresses large, unwieldy video data, shrinking them down to a size suitable for fast, smooth online distribution. This paper introduces NEC’s video coding technology for ensuring the safety, security, fairness and efficiency of broadcasting infrastructure, and discusses NEC’s initiatives to realizing digital transformation (DX) of the broadcasting industry.

Technologies for Achieving Digital Transformation (DX) of Social Systems: DX of Airports

Electronic Customs Declaration Gates to Reduce Congestion at Airport Customs Inspection Areas

TORII Satoshi, ISHII Nobuaki

The situation around us is changing practically every day as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread, the world population grows and tourists are invited to attend international events, and Japan’s working population spirals downward. To help airports cope with the challenges arising from these changes, NEC provides the Electronic Customs Declaration Gates at customs inspection areas. The system aims to facilitate smooth entry of ever-increasing inbound passengers, shorten their waiting times, and reduce congestion at customs. NEC’s world’s No. 1 face recognition technology and spatial design will provide a secure, stress-free, and speedy customs process for passengers visiting Japan. As Japan, along with the rest of the world, goes through increasingly extreme and rapid changes, NEC aims to deliver a higher level of comfort by embracing the concept of NEC I:Delight.

Introducing Face Express, a New Boarding Procedure Using Face Recognition (One ID at Narita Airport)

ISHIHARA Kazuo, YAMADA Hironori, OTANI Takumi, SASAMOTO Takeshi, INOUE Junichi, ISHIKAWA Masumi

Face Express, a new boarding procedure that utilizes NEC’s face recognition system, is now in operation at Narita International Airport. Once passengers register their facial image in Face Express, they will be able to access and proceed through subsequent procedures at the airport, including checking in baggage, entering the security checkpoint, and boarding the plane, all without showing their passport and boarding pass. This will enable seamless and contactless check-in procedures. This paper discusses the difficulties in demonstrating the accuracy of face recognition in the Narita International Airport “One ID” system development project, the importance of adjusting image quality for each installation location, the design for realizing a “walking pace”, and the efforts to coordinate with various stakeholders related to existing operations.

Development of a GPS-based Aircraft Approach and Landing System (GBAS: Ground Based Augmentation System)

INOUE Keiichi, TAGUCHI Tatsuo, SUZUKI Kazushi, KONDO Tempei

NEC has developed Japan’s first operational Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS), a landing guidance system that uses GPS to support aircraft approach and landing, and delivered it to Tokyo International Airport. NEC has developed and manufactured a variety of important social infrastructures such as air traffic control systems, radar systems, navigation systems, and landing guidance systems that contribute to the safety, security, and efficiency of aviation.
Compared to conventional landing guidance systems, GBAS can provide information on multiple approach paths with a single system, thereby reducing installation and operation costs. In addition, depending on the installation environment of the airport, GBAS is expected to enable a flexible approach and landing.

Laying the Groundwork for the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control

SHOTA Takeshi, YOSHIDA Hiroaki

NEC has been developing and delivering advanced air traffic control systems that support the civil aviation bureau and air carriers in Japan for more than half a century. In the future, as the nations of the world draw ever closer together, the volume of air traffic will grow substantially, bringing with it a demand for more sophisticated and flexible air traffic control systems. This paper discusses some of the issues the aviation industry is facing going forward and explains how NEC’s commitment to focusing on the next generation of air traffic control will help to solve those issues.

Sensing Technologies Underlying Social Systems: Sensing Technologies That Work Behind the Scenes

Optical Sensor Technology Supporting the Climate “SHIKISAI” (GCOM-C) Satellite and Its Achievements

YOSHIDA Jun, UCHIKATA Tatsuya, ITOU Yoshiyuki

To achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) aimed at solving issues common to the entire world, Earth observation satellites are becoming more and more important for monitoring the environment and assessing disaster situations on a global scale. Since developing Japan’s first satellite-borne optical observation sensor, NEC Corporation has built a strong track record in developing optical sensors for use onboard satellites. In this paper, we provide an overview of the hardware and the in-orbit achievements obtained with these technologies. Specifically, we focus on the multi-wavelength optical radiometer onboard the Global Change Observation Mission – Climate “SHIKISAI” (GCOM-C) launched in 2017; the hyperspectral sensor for space demonstrations installed on the International Space Station in 2019; and the sensors onboard the Greenhouse Gases Observation Satellite “IBUKI” (GOSAT), which has been in operation since its launch in 2009.

Monitoring Infrastructure with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Satellite Service for Safe and Secure Society

OHNO Shouhei, JUMONJI Nana, HIRATA Hiromichi, HASHIZUME Daisuke, ISHII Takakazu

Numerous satellites have been launched in the past few years, providing a broad array of invaluable data that is being used to support a rapidly expanding range of activities. For the most part, this data is optical image data, which cannot be collected under adverse weather conditions or at night. Recently, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ― which uses microwaves ― has begun to attract attention as a possible solution. Among other things, SAR makes it possible to measure ground surface displacement with high precision across a wide range. NEC adapted this technology to create a service to visualize deterioration and displacement of buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure. However, because SAR image data does not provide an image comprehensible to the human eye, it must be used in conjunction with various analysis technologies. In this paper, we will introduce these add-on technologies and outline the infrastructure maintenance service offered by NEC.

Observation of Internal Structures Using Muography


Imaging of internal structures using an elementary particle called a muon is called muography. Operating in the same way as radiography, muography offers non-destructive imaging thanks to the high penetrability of the muon particle. In this paper, we explain how a muon detector works and how internal structures can be apprehended using machine learning. We also discuss the various fields in which muography can be applied and NEC’s efforts to develop a muography system.

Manipulating the Underwater Propagation Path of Sound Waves with Variable Depth Sonar

HIMENO Masahiro, KOMORIYA Kazutaka, ARAYA Hitoshi, SHIBA Hisashi

For more than 90 years, NEC Corporation has been developing sonar sensors for detecting submarines that threaten Japanese territorial waters. Recently, the quieting performance of submarines has improved dramatically, triggering the need for new sonar technology to counteract this improved performance. In response to this need, NEC has developed the “Variable Depth Sonar” system that manipulates the propagation path of sound waves to search for submarines. Although we encountered many difficulties during the development of this technology, we overcame them and succeeded in achieving results in practical testing in the sea that exceeded our expectations. This paper provides an overview of the development process of the technology.

Development of Mid-Mast TACAN Radio Beacon Antennas for Ships

OGAWA Satoshi, SAITO Noriyuki, MATSUZAWA Yoshihiko

NEC Corporation develops and manufactures a variety of key infrastructure that contribute to the security, safety, and efficiency of aviation, such as systems for air traffic control, radar, navigation, and landing guides. One is the tactical air navigation (TACAN) system, which is a radio beacon system that provides aircraft with distance and bearing information. The TACAN system is not only installed on land but also on the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces ships carrying helicopters, etc. It has been considered that the optimum positioning of the antenna of a ship-borne TACAN system is the top of the mast because its openness is suitable for helicopters in all directions. However, NEC Corporation has developed the world’s first TACAN system that can provide omnidirectional service even when it is installed in the middle of the mast, and this paper will introduce its details.

Onboard Track Patrol Support System — Supporting Railway Track Inspection with Advanced Image Analysis

HAYASHI Masahiro, ARIYAMA Yukitaka, NAKAJIMA Noboru, KAWASAKI Kyohei, SHIMIZU Atsushi, MIWA Masashi

In the face of population decline brought on by a declining birthrate and rapidly aging population in recent years, labor shortages have worsened. This is as true in the railway sector as it is in other industries. Labor-saving solutions for inspections have become critical. NEC’s onboard track patrol support system facilitates the automatic detection and visualization of obstacles on or near the railway track captured in video images as the train travels along the rails. This increases efficiency and ensures safe, reliable railway service. This paper introduces NEC’s onboard track patrol system in detail, outlining the system configuration, providing application examples, and discussing future prospects.

Sensing Technologies Underlying Social Systems: Sensing Technologies for Detection and Recognition

NEC’s Radio Identification Technology: Current Status and its Future

OHTSUJI Taichi, OKUNO Jumpei, KURIBARA Takashi, TAKEUCHI Toshiki, KANEMATSU Masahiro

Sensing technology has become ubiquitous and is now found almost everywhere, providing vast amounts of invaluable still and motion picture data. The mere presence of security cameras can deter crime, and analysis of still and video images from the scene can be useful in identifying, tracking down, and arresting a suspect. As sensing technology continues to proliferate, criminals are likely to respond by taking a more sophisticated approach such as exploiting blind spots and other weaknesses in video security systems. In the future, increased demand for new technology to supplement or replace conventional still and video imaging systems is expected. One of these potential new technologies ― radio identification ― is introduced in this paper. With radio identification, radio signals are collected by a radio sensor and analyzed to identify devices and users. In this paper, we will outline the component technologies of radio identification and examine some likely future use cases.

The Current Status and Future Prospects of Deep Learning–Based Fingerprint Matching Technology


In recent years, deep learning has become the driving force of AI technology, propelling many of the innovative breakthroughs that are transforming the world we live in. The field of biometrics is no exception. Deployment of deep learning is well underway ― especially in face recognition. More recently, deep learning has been applied to fingerprint matching, taking advantage of capabilities like image enhancement and feature extraction. In this paper, we will examine the current status of the application of deep learning to fingerprint matching and consider the future prospects of this technology.

Measurement of three-dimensional information of the face and its application to facial image examination


A facial image captured by a security camera can be an important clue in criminal investigations. However, there is a wide variety of face poses and lighting conditions, which has a significant impact on facial appearance on the image. As a result, in case of comparison to a pre-registered facial image, it is difficult to determine whether each subject is the same. This paper proposes to register 3D information of the face instead of the ordinal 2D facial image in advance. Then, it is possible to reproduce the facial image under the same conditions as the facial image in a security camera, so facial examination becomes direct comparison, and in consequence, more rapid and more reliable. In this paper, we will introduce NEC’s high-speed and high-precision face 3D measurement technology and its application to facial image comparison and facial examination.

Invisible Sensing – Walk-through Security Screening

ARIYOSHI Masayuki, OGURA Kazumine, NOMURA Toshiyuki, MORIMOTO Shin'ichi, HONJO Kakeru

Sensing technologies utilising penetration characteristics of radio waves have been attracting attention as a measure to enhance security screening in public transportation and various venues. For these applications, it is important that the security check be performed without impeding the flow of people, with minimum human effort, and in a non-contact manner. In this paper, we introduce a walk-through security screening system called Invisible Sensing, which is the radio wave-based sensing technology and is capable of detecting weapons or dangerous objects concealed inside bags and/or worn on the body without requiring persons to stop during the scan.

Cutting-edge Technologies to Build a Better Future: Advanced Technologies Permeate Every Facet of Our Lives

Development and Approach to Software-defined Radio Technology

NAGATA Kimitaka, SEKI Satoshi, MINAMI Kenji, OKA Makoto, ISHII Yasuo, SUGATA Masatoshi

Software-defined radio (SDR) refers to radio equipment systems that can switch between multiple communication methods by changing the software. Specifically, multiple modulation and demodulation methods are realized by switching the processing and the circuits of the built-in digital signal processor (DSP) and the field programmable gate array (FPGA) with the central processing unit (CPU). This paper describes the Japan-U.S. joint research for two-way software-defined radios between Japan and the U.S., the prototype and mass production of a broadband multipurpose radio system for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) using the research results, and a program modification project that makes use of the characteristics of software-defined radios.

Automation and Labor-Saving Technology for Satellite Operation


NEC has been operating the high-precision compact radar satellite called ASNARO-2 since 2018, using GroundNEXTAR, a high-quality ground system package developed by NEC, to maintain stable operation. This paper introduces the features of the GroundNEXTAR and discusses what we have learned about automation and labor saving in the course of satellite operation. An important aspect of this is intention learning technology, a sophisticated form of machine learning that automates decision making by learning from experienced operators. With this technology, we can accelerate automation of satellite operation and reduce dependency on experienced operators for selection of observation candidates, a critical part of satellite operation.

Quantum Cryptography — the Next Generation of Light-based Cryptographic Technology

ITO Yoichiro, TOYAMA Hiroyuki

Quantum cryptography is an encryption method capable of protecting information for a very long period without the risk of being decrypted even far into the future. It is expected to be applied to mission critical systems at the nation level. Quantum cryptography is used to encrypt communications using a technique called a one-time pad, which uses a procedure in which cryptographic keys are produced in advance by quantum key distribution (QKD) for sharing between the parties. QKD enables key information to be placed on photons, which are particles of light, to protect the key with their properties of quantum mechanics. In addition to the method called BB84, NEC is conducting research on the continuous-variable quantum key distribution (CV-QKD) method, a next-generation technology.

Labor-saving and Unmanned Robotics Takes the Effort out of Physically Demanding Work

ISHIDA Hisashi, KON Kazuyuki

With its declining birthrate and aging population, Japan faces acute labor shortages ― especially in industries where physically demanding work is involved. In those fields where hard, physical labor is required, and where automation is more difficult to implement, the answer is robotics. In this paper, we look at two of the robotics systems NEC had developed in trial production projects run by Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA). One of these is a high-agility powered exoskeleton that multiplies the power of the operator and reduces the apparent weight load, while at the same time providing a high level of agility and usability on rough terrain. The other is a multi-purpose autonomous robotic vehicle that can operate on rough terrain without requiring priori map information. In addition to configuration and main component technologies, we will also discuss the projects in which these robots are being used and speculate on what possibilities the future may hold.

Development of Wireless Power Transfer Antenna Capable of Efficiently Transmitting High Power to Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

OGAWA Makoto, YAMAMOTO Mitsuru

This paper introduces the development of an underwater wireless power transfer (charging) antenna that is important for the operation of unmanned vehicles under the sea. Research and industrial activities are advancing in areas such as situational awareness, resource surveys, and the development of equipment for mining and extraction, and in recent years, unmanned underwater vehicles, like drones, are being widely used underwater. However, due to the limited range of wired power supply, and short operating time of battery-powered power supply, we have started to develop a wireless power transfer system for underwater use to improve operational efficiency. NEC has succeeded in developing a 50 W class underwater antenna using its original antenna technology obtained by R&D, but its capacity is small and its range of application is limited, so we began development of a practical level kilowatt class antenna.

Cutting-edge Technologies to Build a Better Future: Advanced Technologies in Space Applications

The Ion Engine of Hayabusa2 and Potential Applications

USUI Miyuki, SHIMIZU Yusuke, MORIMOTO Yusuke, OI Toshihiko, YOSHIZAWA Naoki, WATANABE Osamu, OGOU Keita

Designed for asteroid exploration, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft has ion engines installed which powered the outbound journey from Earth to the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu and the flight back to Earth after collecting samples. But that wasn’t the end of the mission. Hayabusa2 is currently on its way to a new destination, collecting valuable data to support humankind’s exploration of the solar system. The ion engine that powers the spacecraft is a form of electric propulsion that has become the key to deep space exploration and is attracting a lot of attention. This paper provides an overview of spacecraft propulsion systems in general and the ion engine in particular, discussing NEC’s role in the development of this advanced space propulsion system, how it performed on Hayabusa2, and how we plan to improve its performance for Japan’s next deep space exploration mission named DESTINY+.

Hayabusa2 — Autonomous Navigation, Guidance and Control System Supported Pinpoint Touchdowns on Asteroid Ryugu


After arriving at the asteroid Ryugu, which orbits the Sun at a distance of over 300 million km from Earth, the Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer executed a pinpoint landing, touching down with a margin of error of about 1 m. This feat was largely made possible by Hayabusa2’s autonomous navigation, guidance and control system that surmounted the severe environmental conditions on the asteroid’s surface and the extended communication delay time. In this paper, we will introduce this critical system and outline the technology that makes it possible ― including the target markers (TMs) and the laser altimeter that facilitate pinpoint landings. We will also discuss the results of the mission, highlighting Hayabasa2’s principal achievements.

Spaceborne LIDAR-Supported Autonomous Landing of Hayabusa2 Spacecraft with Remote Sensing Technology

KASE Teiji, MAYUZUMI Katsunori, IKUSE Yasuyuki

As more and more countries compete to launch deep space exploration missions, such as the one Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer is on, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) is becoming one of the advanced technologies facilitating this new wave of lunar and planetary exploration. Ever since the Apollo program, LIDAR has been used to determine the altitude of a spacecraft as well as for topographical survey of various astronomical objects. It was also incorporated in the selenological and engineering explorer (SELENE) nicknamed Kaguya and will be in the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) vehicle set for launch in 2024. In this paper, we will introduce the LIDAR technology developed by NEC for space exploration and its current status as of 2021.

Hayabusa2: System Design and Operational Results

OSHIMA Takeshi

NEC played a leading role in the development and manufacture of the Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer, not only designing the system, integrating equipment, conducting tests, and providing operational support, but also coordinating the development of the subsystems for the spacecraft’s structure, thermal, power supply, telecommunications, data handling, attitude/orbit control, ion engine, electric instrumentation, and sampling systems. NEC supplied some of the components for these subsystems as well as several of the observation devices. This paper discusses the role NEC played in the Hayabusa2 project and discusses operational scenarios and results in the vicinity of asteroid Ryugu as well as the factors that contributed to the mission’s success.

Optical Inter-satellite Communication Technology for High-Speed, Large-Capacity Data Communications

YUKIZANE Masakazu, YOKOTA Yusuke, KURII Toshihiro

NEC Corporation is building a network based on optical inter-satellite communication technology to achieve inter-satellite data communications with a higher speed and larger capacity than the present. It will improve the ability to transmit data immediately from satellite observations for use in various fields. As a first step, NEC has developed an optical communications equipment that is onboard the optical data relay satellites launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The equipment was launched on November 29, 2020 and succeeded in establishing an optical link with an optical ground station approximately 40,000 km away. NEC is also planning an in-orbit testing of optical inter-satellite communication with an optical communication system onboard an earth observation satellite. The onboard service operation will be started after the in-orbit testing.

Development of 30 kW-Class X-Band Solid State Power Amplifier for the Misasa Deep Space Station

NAKAHARA Toshihaya, YAMADA Youhei, OTAKE Toshiya, ASAO Hiroyuki, IZUKURA Kenji, KOHIGASHI Kousuke

Under contract with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NEC Corporation has delivered a 30 kW-class X-band solid state power amplifier to the Misasa Deep Space Station (Ground station for deep space exploration and telecommunication: GREAT) located in Saku City, Nagano Prefecture. To date, klystrons have been used for the high power X-band transmitters required for deep-space probe operations, but NEC has succeeded in implementing the world’s first X-band solid state power amplifier in the 30 kW-class by multiple-stage combining of power amplification units using domestically produced gallium nitride (GaN) devices.

Development of the World’s Highest-Performance Thin Membrane Solar Array Paddle

KOBAYASHI Takuro, HIROSE Taichi, KANEKO Naoyuki, OSE Takayuki

Solar array paddles mounted on satellites are required to be as lightweight as possible and capable of supplying high power. The NEC Corporation has been developing thin membrane solar array paddles (TMSAP) in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and aims to achieve the world’s highest power-toweight ratio of 150 W/kg or more for the power generated. The TMSAP, which greatly reduced weight by using a new structural method, has been confirmed to have attained the targeted performance with both the ground and on-orbit demonstration models. The newly developed TMSAP is expected to play an active role in various space development projects, such as deep space exploration and satellite constellations. This paper introduces the features of the TMSAP, its development history including on-orbit demonstrations, and perspectives on future development.

NEC Information

2020 C&C Prize Ceremony