What seems little more than a far-off fantasy for most countries is already reality in Japan. Robots, artificial intelligence, and ultrafast Internet are standard in many regions. It is this pioneering spirit that makes the island nation the world’s third largest economy – despite its relatively low population of 127 million.
Passengers have barely stepped off the plane at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport before their first awe-inspiring encounter with Japanese technology. Hitachi (Hall 4, Stand A38) robots are on hand to greet visitors from around the world. Not with a predictable, pre-configured “hello”, but with something far more impressive. Emiew3 humanoid robots can process information from voices and images and react accordingly. In this way, they are able to answer questions from tourists and even accompany them to their gate , for instance.
On the bus to the hotel, passengers witness airport staff effortlessly loading heavy luggage onto the vehicle. They’re not blessed with superhuman strength, but are wearing exoskeleton suits . These are equipped with sensors that respond to the user’s nerve impulses, while artificial limbs support movement. The brains behind the technology is Cyberdyne – named after the robot factory from the blockbuster movie Terminator, in which machines come to rule the world.
The relationship between man and machine seems to have progressed much further in Japan than anywhere else. Although only around 127 million people live there, it boasts the third largest economy in the world. It also takes third place when it comes to average annual income per household – its $86,000 putting it behind only the USA and Switzerland. The country owes a large part of its economic success to the IT market. According to figures provided by Bitkom (Hall 4, Stand C58) , Japan exported just under €1.3 billion’s worth of IT products to Germany in 2015 alone.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Japan is the partner country for CeBIT 2017. Around 120 companies – roughly 10 times as many as last year – have signed up for its partner country presentation, which will cover over 7,000m2 in halls 4 and 12. Moreover, around a dozen major Japanese developers will be exhibiting there.
Hitoshi Masuda of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has confirmed that the companies will be discussing the role of robots in medicine and agriculture – among other topics. The German-Japanese University Network HeKKSaGOn will bring household robots to serve food and drinks.
The event gives Japan the perfect opportunity to show off its technological prowess and present itself as a hotbed for innovation. This is a crucial move for the country. Indeed, a study by the Japanese National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) shows that Japan’s research has very little global exposure. This could also explain why technology that is now part of everyday life in Japan is still nowhere near a breakthrough in Germany, the US, or China.
High-speed mobile Internet has been standard in Japan for some time. Tech giant NTT Docomo (Hall 7, Stand A40) has already completed its first testing phase for 5G . The fifth generation of mobile telecommunications technology is expected to be established in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.
What’s more, Japanese automakers Nissan, Toyota, and Honda (all in Hall 4, Stand A38) are advancing AI to teach cars to see, communicate, and drive themselves. The developer SoftBank already sells 1,000 humanoid robots a year and – through its acquisition of chip manufacturer ARM – is now making headway with smart cars.
Despite the general hesitance in Asia to present innovations, Japan’s forward-thinking mentality has allowed it to maintain its position as a leader in technology. As such, the country is attracting great interest from CeBIT visitors.
Find out more about the CeBIT 2017 partner country in our infographic . One of the trade fair’s highlights is the CeBIT Japan Summit on March 20. The event, which features the tagline “Society 5.0 – Another Perspective”, will allow visitors to learn more about Japan’s path to becoming a highly-advanced society.