The Future According to NTT: A Look Inside the 2019 R&D Forum

At the NTT R&D Forum 2019, held November 14 and 15 in Tokyo, NTT Research President and CEO Kazuhiro Gomi and the directors of its three laboratories introduced their work in the context of NTT’s Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) initiative. In addition to the NTT Research team, this year’s R&D Forum featured talks by NTT President and CEO Jun Sawada and other NTT executives, along with exhibits highlighting IOWN and related innovations.

Outside of the NTT Musashino Research and Development Center in Tokyo, Japan, during the NTT R&D Forum in November 2019.
(© 2019 NTT Research)

Based on cutting-edge photonics technologies, NTT’s IOWN will provide a high-capacity, low-latency and energy-efficient information and communication platform that supports sustainable future growth. In a related development, two weeks prior to the R&D Forum, NTT, Intel Corporation and Sony Corporation announced the creation of a new industry forum, the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) Global Forum. The objective of that forum is to accelerate the adoption of an all-photonics communications infrastructure through the development of technologies in areas such as photonic networking and digital twin computing.

On the first day of the NTT R&D Forum, NTT Research President and CEO Gomi discussed the organization’s approach to innovation and its relevance to IOWN. Following President Gomi’s session, Physics and Informatics (PHI) Lab Director Yoshihisa Yamamoto, Cryptography and Information Security (CIS) Lab Director Tatsuaki Okamoto, and Medical and Health Informatics (MEI) Lab Director Hitonobu Tomoike introduced specific research activities in their respective laboratories. In some areas, such as the PHI Lab’s optically-oriented neural quantum computing model, and the MEI Lab’s aspiration to develop digital twinning for medical diagnosis, the goals of the IOWN Global Forum and current efforts at NTT Research broadly align.

NTT welcomes attendees to the NTT R&D Forum held at NTT Musashino Research Center in Tokyo in November 2019. (© 2019 NTT Research)

The NTT R&D Forum also provided a reminder that research is occurring simultaneously, at many points across the NTT domain. The exhibits on display at the NTT Musashino Research and Development Center were extensive and inspiring. They ranged across seven topical areas: smart world, networking, AI, data collection/management/analysis, media and devices/robotics, security, and basic research. In that latter category, only one exhibit was close to commercialization ­– Danswing paper that provides illusory movement on printed materials – while the others labeled conceptual or proof of concept (POC).

The other ten basic research exhibits included a rehabilitation monitoring system for patients, a wearable core-body temperature sensor, transparent batteries that adapt to surrounding environments, laser-based infrastructure maintenance, AI-friendly optical meta-surfaces, channel coding that achieves the Shannon Limit, middleware and applications for Laser Ising Machines, superconducting quantum sensing, a record-breaking high-Tc ferromagnetic insulator, and attosecond spectroscopic technology. All were impressive examples of the kinds of breakthroughs that basic research can achieve.