The “CEATEC 2021” Computing and Advanced Digital Devices Fair kicked off on October 19, in an online format similar to last year.
Key themes for this year’s exhibition include ‘Living with Corona’ and technology related to decarbonization and digitization – two areas that fall under the government’s growth strategy.
The online show will run until October 21, but the exhibits can be viewed until November 30.
At a press conference on October 18, the first thing that stood out was the cautious approach to COVID-19. Mass vaccination in Japan is progressing well and infection rates are improving. Still, the exhibit showed fears of a COVID-19 resurgence persist.
An example that reflected this caution was Kyocera’s AI self-checkout system. Self-checkouts have become more common in convenience stores and supermarkets due to staff shortages and the pandemic, but the tedious process of scanning every item is a problem.
In Kyocera’s system, however, the AI is able to identify products from a photographic image and calculate the total price instantly, even if there are many items scattered around in a haphazard fashion.
“As long as the AI system can visualize about 40% of the product, it can calculate the price,” reveals Kyocera, who aims to make the system a reality from 2023.
Sharp used Kyocera’s liquid crystal technology to create a “touchless panel” that can be used without physical contact – to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He also revealed a speaker with a built-in microphone to address the issue of hard-to-hear voices.
Foldable solar cells
In response to the government’s goal of having zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, several companies have focused their efforts on technology related to decarbonization.
Toshiba promoted its lightweight, foldable “perovskite solar cell”, which can be used on a variety of previously unused surfaces, such as walls and roofs of office buildings that are not particularly strong. This would increase the number of places capable of producing solar energy.
Mitsubishi Electric showed the interior of its SUSTIE net zero energy test facility – built in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in October 2020. The facility is designed to have net greenhouse gas emissions using renewable energy and other sources.
According to Mitsubishi Electric, its plant is the first medium-sized or larger building in Japan, with high energy consumption, to achieve this zero-energy goal.
“We have an abundance of technologies that can be integrated into existing buildings, and we want to help decarbonize society,” explained a spokesperson for the company – referring to the technology related to lighting and to air conditioning.
Regarding digitization, SoftBank showcased its “flying base stations,” which could potentially send radio waves to smartphones from space and the stratosphere. The waves are expected to be sent by satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles located about 20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
Meanwhile, on the issue of security, which will be crucial in the digital age, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric have introduced cryptographic technology that will protect next-generation “quantum computers”.
(Read it Sankei Shimbun report in japanese on this link.)
Author: Satoshi Sobatani