AI and IoT reign at Yokohama show -

AI and IoT reign at Yokohama show


YOKOHAMA, Japan — As with any trade show featuring “embedded technology” anywhere in the world, the Embedded Technology 2018 Exhibition in Yokohama earlier this month got hijacked by today’s two hot topics: AI and IoT.

On one hand, Japanese electronics heavyweights — mostly Fujitsu, NEC and Toshiba — showcased new materials and wireless technologies they deem critical to the spread of IoT applications.

On the other hand, this year’s Embedded Technology/IoT show trotted out a host of Japanese startups, including Ascent Robotics, LeapMind, Robit and others with an intense business and technology focus on AI. While these AI rookies in Japan are largely unknown to the world, their motivation — what they do, how they do it, and why they do it — is no different from startups everywhere. They are eager, ambitious and trained for fast decision making. They want to make AI useful and prove its effectiveness in real-world industrial and consumer applications.

Japanese startups tend to differ from startups elsewhere in their commitment to leverage Japan’s decades of experience in building robots and automobiles. They want to use their proximity to automated manufacturing sites and to experienced factory managers as a head start toward developing AI algorithms for industrial applications.

A common thread tying both incumbents and startups who gathered at the Embedded Technology show was their active promotion and development of “edge technology.” While Google, Facebook, Amazon and others in the United States may have already established a stronghold in areas like big data, data centers and deep learning, Japan’s hopes focus on making edge devices smarter, more connected and autonomous.

Exhibition show floor of Embedded Technology/IoT Technology in Yokohama this year (Photo: Japan Embedded Systems Technology Association)

In the following pages, EE Times shares highlights of the Embedded Technology show this year — what we spotted and what we learned.

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