NEC established a technology vision as guidance for our research and development to create new value. How can we evolve the future technology? What kind of innovation do we bring to society? NEC addresses the realization of a brighter future, let us explore our outlook on future technology.
Continuously seeking technologies to create social value
ICT's social value and source of added value
NEC will provide new value through Digital Transformation while resolving the problems facing the world, society, and customers. In the past, NEC promoted the creation of social value based on ICT, but taking advantage of digital data has become even more important for the future. We identified three major processes in the use of digital data.
The first process is digitizing the real world and visualizing it in the cyber world. The second is to analyze the problems of the real world using the captured digital data. The third is to apply prescriptions based on the analysis results to the real world in order to achieve new value.
To implement these processes, we at NEC believe that it is important to create outstanding technologies that have a significant impact on society particularly in the fields of AI and IoT, which are undergoing rapid technological innovation, and have established our technology vision to accomplish this goal. The technology vision is a set of guidelines intended to enable NEC to target new forms of social value creation, recognize the technology trends, depict the technologies and society of the future to create outstanding technologies.
The technology vision establishes the technology areas which are required for value creation and anticipates the direction of technology advancement. In the area of Data Science, we will enhance "Recognition AI" and "Analytics AI" technologies to reach an even higher level. Furthermore, we will also work on an "AI Platform", "Communications", "Cyber Security", and a "Data Distribution Platform" as ICT platform technologies for implementing these AI and IoT solutions in a low cost and secure manner.
In addition, new forms of engineering development and social solutions will emerge from the future expansion of AI, IoT, 5G, and other technologies into other fields of engineering. NEC in particular has amassed technologies in the areas of networking, communications, and IT infrastructure which far surpass those of other companies. We are starting to blaze new trails for the future in these technologies as well.
Moreover, global co-creation is essential for the commercialization of these technologies as solutions which are useful to society. Through these research and development activities, NEC aims to realize a prosperous, bright society in which AI and people can cooperate to provide greater value.
Our Future Society Envisioned Through Conversations with External Experts
Realizes a deep understanding of humans and things by combining a wide variety of sensors
Today, sensor technology is growing; therefore, it is possible to bring together a space that humans cannot recognize directly with information that far exceeds the five senses or human cognitive abilities into the cyber world. By applying advanced AI to this massive volume of information, NEC makes it possible to capture deep information such as the internal states of people or the inside of objects which cannot be perceived by humans. NEC's face recognition technology is capable of reconciling a picture taken ten years ago with a current image for authentication that is independent of race and age, as well as identifying individuals hidden by makeup or a malicious disguise. This technology has been evaluated as the best performance in the world by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. In the future, we will further develop recognition AI technology to recognize more in-depth information, such as a person's psychological state. This will help to prevent crimes instead of just finding a suspect after an incident.
Implementing data analysis that can track changing conditions through prediction and optimization technology
Responding to real world environmental changes and overcoming problems is required for the Social Solutions Business which NEC is focusing on. Therefore, we are developing prediction and optimization technology which can predict changes from the data generated by the target system and determine the optimal response. This technology enables dynamic prediction and optimization in response to ever-changing situations. For example, AI automates order processing by efficiently generating the demand forecast model of thousands of products in a retail store in a short period of time in order to increase the overall profitability of the store.
Supports decision making by presenting appropriate suggestions and reasons based on fragmented information
Many social issues are unknown problems without big data or complex problems that could have several possible answers. To solve such problems, the final decision must be made by humans based on the advanced assistance of AI. NEC is developing methods of direct learning and utilization which retain information relationships and Reasoning AI which creates and rapidly verifies logically valid hypotheses. This enables AI to solve complex problems by presenting appropriate suggestions or reasons to people even if the AI only has fragmentary knowledge or observational information. For example, even in the event of an unprecedented cyberattack, reasoning AI can offer appropriate suggestions to security analysts for a rapid response to the attack.
Streamlines the learning process while managing hardware
AI processing is broken down into two phases: learning and inference (execution), and in many cases, the computational load of learning is enormous. For example, image recognition requires learning about 10 million images in a week in advance; actual recognition processing takes approximately 0.1 seconds to complete. NEC will accelerate the learning process in AI using a variety of appropriate hardware, including a GPU that is suitable for high-speed deep learning, a vector processor with wide memory bandwidth suitable for machine learning other than deep learning, and a FPGA with a performance per unit power consumption that is about 100 times better than a CPU. This improves the processing capacity by two digits and allows the learning processes to take place on a single server that previously required dozens of servers.
Meeting to diverse needs by integrating AI with communications expertise
Future communications must satisfy the need for ultra fast speeds and large capacity to deliver high definition video and the need for extremely high reliability and low latency to perform real time control of autonomous vehicles. NEC will meet such diverse needs by integrating AI which learns from massive volumes of data obtained in the field with modeling and other communications expertise based on physics, engineering, and informatics. NEC is one of the world's top vendors of undersea optical cable systems and has implemented communications related technologies such as the commercialization of the world's first networking equipment to support SDN (Software-Defined Networking) which can be flexibly defined by software. Using such advanced communications technologies as a foundation, the integration of AI will produce far more advanced communications technologies.
AI and the digital twin ensure the safety and security of life
Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and the attacks extend to the physical systems, such as commercial facilities, in addition to public services that provide electricity, gas, water, and sewerage. The attacks are diversified and often use internal crime. In order to protect a system that must not have its supply terminated against a variety of attacks, it is important to take advantage of the digital twin, including the physical system and people, to enhance security measures by continuously implementing a huge number of simulated attacks as predicted by AI and simulated defenses as created by AI. In addition, it is critical to encrypt the communication and authenticate the IoT device to prevent the invasion of a virus. NEC will take advantage of AI and the digital twin with authentication encryption technology that passed the second screening in an international competition. As a result, perfect security measures are being implemented that would be impossible to implement manually in a system.
Data distribution platform
Shares a wide variety of data to make the entire society more efficient
The sharing of data to promote the use of public data will become increasingly more important as the driver in transforming society in the future. However, most private data cannot be easily shared because of privacy protection or conflicts of interest. NEC has achieved computation technology that can conceal the original data, which is more than ten times faster than any other company's method. The combination of this computation technology and a system to ensure the safety of programs makes it possible to leverage private data without worrying about data leaks. Providing this system as a data linkage service enables the streamlining of society as a whole through the development of new medicines, efficient traffic solutions, and loss reduction in manufacturing and distribution.