Softbank To Stop Further Development Of Japan-Made Mobile Technology And To Take Chinese 4G Standard?

Softbank, a Japanese telecom and media company who will take over the next-generation PHS service called XGP[J] from the service’s predecessor Willcom in corporate reorganization proceedings, is reportedly considering to adopt China Mobile‘s TD-LTE standard instead for the service in Japan, several Japanese news sources reported.

If Softbank adopts TD-LTE, Softbank’s subscribers in Japan and China Mobile’s subscribers will be able to use the next-generation high-speed data service both in the two countries.

Some people say, Softbank’s adopting TD-LTE means to stop further development of Japan-made XGP technology.  In order to complete the turnaround, they’ll be forced to persuade Japan’s telecom authority who have issued a radio license for the development.

China Mobile plans test operation of TD-LTE service in three cities in Mainland China in six months from now, and in association with China Mobile, Motorola and Huawei, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology will also run the test service at the site of Shanghai Expo 2010 which starts this weekend.

Meanwhile, Softbank announced consolidated financial results for the month ended March 31, 2010, and it tells us the company’s operating profit has exceeded for the first time that of KDDI who used to be second ranked in Japanese mobile industry.   The new subscriptions of iPhone and other Smartphones highly contributed to the results, Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son says.

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Wireless Japan 2009, Mobile Innovations Are Out There

Logo of Wireless Japan 2009

In order to cover one of this year’s remarkable mobile exhibitions in Tokyo, I’ve checked many IT news sources, but most of new products and new services introduced at the exhibition have been already featured on Asiajin. (Probably this is what we have to be proud of, because that means we keep covering the cutting-edge.)

That’s why we focus only on what we’ve never featured on Asiajin but have been exhibited at Wireless Japan 2009.

Applix's Logo

Mobile giant NTT DoCoMo and Applix, a Tokyo-based Java mobile platform developer having two-dozen-year history, announced they would join forces to develop AR(Augmented Reality) products. Following Tonchi-Dot’s Sekai Camera[E/J] (backed up by Softbank Mobile) and KDDI’s AR cellphone, NTT DoCoMo joined the race in developing AR-based products, which means all three Japanese mobile carriers believe AR may be one of key factors for making the next-generation mobile business more successful.


The video above was taken and published on YouTube by freelance writer Tamotsu Hashimoto.

The team of NTT DoCoMo and Applix developed a new Android app allowing you to retrieve information associated with what you’re seeing through a camera built-in your cellphone, and its experimental prototype was exhibited. The app is also downloadable for signed up users at the trial service category[J] of NTT DoCoMo’s corporate website.

Meanwhile, Japan’s only PHS mobile operator Willcom developed a high-speed data transmission standard called XGP, and it’s now on test drive at Tokyo’s CBD. However, with such a brand new technology, most of us have no idea on how our life will be changed in the future. Willcom developed a variety of concept-based product mockups in association with major Japanese mobile device manufacturers, and those have been introduced on the company’s special website[J] for the last several months. The mockups were actually exhibited within booth visitor’s reach, which makes us easier to imagine what happens next.

(The mockups introduced below are not intended for sales but conceptual models for encouraging further consumer understanding.)

JRC's Logo

Network Buoy
Network Buoy developed by JRC

A floating WiFi access point allows you to enjoy the Internet on sea, lake and river. It measures up-to-date water temperature and sea current, capture images and sounds, and transmit them over wireless Internet connection.

For Motor Bike Riders
Broadband Communication Tool for Motorbike Riders developed by JRC

By attaching this device to a motorbike rider’s helmet, he/she will be always updated with useful information even while he/she is driving.

Kyocera's Logo

Image Tube
Image Tube: Multi-task Display developed by Kyocera

An LCD rolled around a hand-held body will show you a variety of information, and you can choose a menu only by touching it with your finger.

NEC's Logo

AirTray
Air Tray: Multi-method Transaction Terminal co-developed by NEC Infrontier and NEC Design & Promotion

A device enabling IC-card and contactless cellphone wallet-based transactions even at food trucks and food carts.

Sanyo's Logo

Energy Bulb
Energy Bulb: A Clean Energy Server developed by Sanyo Electric

Solar battery, battery charger and WiFi access point in one. It always connects with Internet and distributed energy and information to household appliances at your home.

SII's Logo

Amaterasu & Tsukuyomi
Amaterasu & Tsukuyomi: A Tribal Communication Tool developed by SII (Seiko Instruments), named after the Gods of the Sun and the Moon in Shinto and Japanese Mythology

Wearing this accessory makes you feel virtually connected with your remote friends for 24 hours a day. It shows you real-time state on the community that you’re a member of.

VLS
VLS (Vital Link System): A Set of Sensor Devices developed by SII for Prevention Medicare

By wearing this on your hand, it transmits vital signs 24 hours a day and may reduce the necessity to attend hospital.

Toshiba's Logo

Network Ecology Bag
Network Ecology Bag developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging will be well spread at retail services, this bag allows housewives to keep the list of what you’ve bought. By transmitting the list over the Internet, it allows them to manage the family expenses and to promote health care.

Rental Bike System
Rental Bike System developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

This attachment for bicycles will change them to rental bikes. The attachment has features of GPS navigation, FeliCa (for accepting rental fee payment by contactless cellphone wallet) and remote lock system for possible fraud use.

Real-time Translator
Real-time Translator developed by Toshiba Mobile Communication[J]

A combination of wearing this device and high-speed wireless connectivity allows you to communicate with many people who speak different languages from your mother tongue, since it translates what you speak as well as your gestures. Translation results will be uttered by the device or appeared on its surface.

MCF Announces This Year’s Award-Winning Mobile Projects (2/2)

Continued from the previous post.

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Excellent Award (Mobile Solution Category)

Logo of The JV

Won by McDonalds Japan[J] and the JV, a McDonalds’ joint venture with NTT DoCoMo, with their customer relationship marketing project by using cellphone wallet and mobile apps. Every Friday they distribute virtual discount coupons for McDonald’s meals to participating members’ handsets, which is valid only when paid by NTT DoCoMo’s cellphone wallet service.

The Partnership of McDonald's and NTT DoCoMo

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Best Award (Mobile Solution Category)

Eole's Logo

Won by Eole[J], a Tokyo-based web app developing venture, with a new service allowing users to set up an e-mail tree for connecting your friends and colleagues only by posting an e-mail. It’s a more convenient way to schedule meet-ups and to manage RSVP from potential participants, and also you need not to worry about possible leak of the participant’s private information since those are kept on server-side.

The service is named Raku-Raku Renrakumo[J] or an easy-to-use e-mail tree service. By clicking a banner seen below, you’ll be able to watch a brief introduction on the service in Rakugo show style.

Brief Introduction of E-Mail Chain Service

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Excellent Award (Mobile Hardware Category)


Won by Softbank Mobile with iPhone 3G.  No need to describe it. (Articles tagged with ‘iPhone’)

iPhone 3GS

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Best Award (Mobile Hardware Category)


Won by Willcom for the cellphone product lineup of Honey Bee[J], a playfully designed and colorful PHS handsets series made by Kyocera.

6 Color Sets of Honey Bee

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Incentive Award

Mobachoo's Logo

Won by STAND[J], an NPO encouraging the disabled to participate in sports programs which are hosted around the country, with the project of live stream programming covering sports events for the disabled, including the international wheelchair soccer tournament.

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The winning ceremony for these awards will be held next Wednesday at the annual exhibition on wireless technology, Wireless Japan 2009.

Another Way To Have Mobile Broadband, It’s Neither WiMax Nor HSDPA

Willcom's Logo

Willcom Core's Logo

Japan’s only PHS operator Willcom announced today it would start trial of new high-speed mobile data service next week, which is called XGP and enables logically 20Mbps Internet access not only in downstream but also in upstream. Starting on April 27th, the trial will be in operation until the end of coming September, and the service will be available in the area surrounded by Yamanote Loop Line[J] of Tokyo as well as several cities in the country.

Willcom lends 500 sets of XGP-enabled PC card to application development partners (described below) for free, and encourages them to develop innovative applications and services.

Digital Signage Advertising (in Kanagawa):
JCB (credit card company), Asatsu DK (ad agency) and NKB[J] (transit-ad agency) jointly develop a new type of digital signage device, accepting “touch-and-go” by passer-by’s wallet cellphone and requiring no data cable.

Hand-carry device for Live TV Broadcasting (in Tokyo):
Fuji-TV plans the trial to build up a network for gathering news source pictures in HD quality, and XGP’s specification of high-speed upstream allows it without broadcast van nor microwave truck.

Building up the network for railway operations (in Osaka):
Hanshin Railway and its two subsidiaries of railway-related system integrators use XGP for carrying images and data from rail-side CCTV cameras and remote sensors.

Installing digital signage devices on streetcars (in Hiroshima)
The city’s authority on promoting ICT plans to install digital signage devices on chassis of streetcars running in the city. Willcom’s XGP service carries image data for the devices.

Solving digital divide issues (in Yamagata)
The prefectural government uses the new technology in order to encourage the equalization of education opportunity in the rural areas where fiber optic has been not yet installed.

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Will Mobile Medical Services Save Japan From The Global Economic Downturn?

SCCJ's logo Apius's logo

Medical Communication's logo

Economists point out that expanding domestic demand and encouraging consumption are the highest priorities in getting us out of this economic downturn. IT Strategic Headquarters, the arm of Japan’s Cabinet which oversees which IT platforms will most benefit the country in the future, has suggested a three-year stimulus package including further deployment of broadband applications in the medical industry.

The Obama administration has also included the deployment of an electronic medical record system in its 21st century new deal. There are high expectations that this industry is a key to pushing the world economy into a better state.

The Mobile Computing Promotion Consortium, or MCPC, which was formed by giant systems integrators and telecommunications companies in Japan, holds an annual grand prize awards ceremony to highlight innovative and unique service models using mobile technologies. This year’s ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 19th, and a mobile medical record management system is nominated for the Communication Minister’s award.

The service is named “Pocket Karte[J]” (Karte means “card” in German, and this usually means a medical record in Japanese) and was co-developed with mobile carrier Willcom, Sustainable Community Center Japan[J] (a health and welfare-oriented NPO organized by a number of university professors), Apius[J] (a medical records ASP), and Medical Communication[J] (a mobile application developer).

The service allows you to check your medical records with a PHS handset, and it also makes it easier for medical practitioners and paramedics to get your detailed medical history. Some people expect the service to contribute to further medical studies by analyzing the collected records, and to be essential to encourage preventive medicine in an aging society such as Japan.

The service started last October and gathered more than 10,000 users by the end of January. The current version lets you manage your medical examination certificates and letters of introduction to/from other medical practitioners, and the next version will also support browsing your prescription drug history, and browsing medical records published by more than 100 hospitals and clinics nationwide.

Willcom is the only PHS operator in Japan, and it has more than 4.5 million subscribers as of the end of February according to the Telecommunications Carriers Association of Japan.

(Note: Cellphone handsets can cause problems because of their higher-strength signals, so many medical facilities restrict their use. Therefore, “Pocket Karte” is designed exclusively for PC and PHS access, and is not available on cellphone handsets. Since the signal strength of PHS devices is lower than that of cellphone handsets, medical personnel are usually permitted to use them in hospitals and ambulances.)

(Proofread by: Sean O’Hagan)