How Internet of Things will help us care for an ageing society

TRP: How important is it that Fujitsu is innovative with its healthcare products? You mention the Lifebook U904's biometric security, which was the first to be implemented into a laptop…

JR: Fujitsu as a technology company likes to build things, so I would imagine that we will always be building things, if not for other purposes then for demonstration purposes, for what is possible, and how you could instigate more development in a particular area.

I'll give you an example of something that we didn't turn into a product, but that got quite a bit of attention. It was a walking cane that included rather a simple technology [a built-in sat-nav that tracks location and can notify if a user falls over].

Everything technologically was there - it wasn't a breakthrough of any sort - but it demonstrated the concept of how you can put the capabilities of modern day devices, both computational and communicational, into an object of everyday life.

Fujitsu will always do that. However, I would like to emphasise that - particularly in healthcare - there's a lot of progress to be made just by using the data that's available.

In some cases we have to get that data from sensors, but the real challenge is to do amazing things with it, such as predictive analysis, to discover root causes and do things that can be helpful in prevention.

I would think that the Internet of Things and the sensors and these new capabilities that we are building will help in the area of diagnostics, but also it'll help in the area of prevention, which is one of the great sources of savings that we can address.

TRP: How important will publishing and platforms - such as social media - be to Internet of Things in general?

JR: I would argue that the Internet of Things as a discipline ties together disparate parts of the IT industry: big data analysis, storage, server, compute, cloud computing and so on, but also sensors and social media.

In some ways you could say that the social media websites are virtual sensors of some sort. To give you an example, we have a project in Japan that demonstrates enormous usefulness in terms of predicting floods as a result of rainfall.

There's lots of precipitation in Japan which ends up coming down a lot in a short space of time, meaning floods suddenly build up.

You can do the usual kind of stuff which would be weather reports, analysis and predictions, and put out some sensors here or there, which does work and help. However, if you mesh that information with the analysis of live feeds and social media, you can consider that a sensor too.

It senses sentiments and people people's thoughts, which you can mash with information and other measurements that you're doing.

As demonstrated in one of the regions in Japan, you can be ahead of normal possibilities by three-and-a-half hours, so by mashing social media into that whole plethora of information you go out and predict real floods quicker than would be possible with other very advanced, high-tech methods.

I view social media as another sensor of the non-physical nature.

TechRadar Pro: How important is it for Fujitsu to be seen as a global leader in research?

Joseph Reger: There are two parts to that question: how important is it to be seen as global, and then as a leader. The answer is very, on both counts.

Fujitsu is a company that does around almost two-thirds of its revenue in Japan, so for that reason you could think that Fujitsu only focuses on that country.

However, in the mid-to-long term the goal is to balance the business between Japan and overseas from a Japanese perspective. Therefore, we are engaging a number of activities and are investing to make the company more global. That's very important.

It means that we aren't just a sales presence - we already have sales organisations all over the world - but also in terms of other activities that are important to Fujitsu. R&D and innovation are some of them.

To take one example, Fujitsu Laboratories, the basic R&D part of Fujitsu, is organised as a separate company. There's a Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd, which is a 100% subsidiary of Fujitsu.

Fujitsu Labs has research facilities around the world, including the UK, China and North America. We're trying to extend that activity to do substantial collaborative research and innovation everywhere - particularly in Europe and Ireland.

I'm just starting a project for Fujitsu to be more in a position to take advantage of all the European initiatives.

TRP: Where is the low-hanging fruit going to be for businesses when it comes to Internet of Things generally?

JR: There's two areas. The first is the one that's helping in private life, making it more comfortable and enjoyable, where we will see the emergence of wearables, which is a sensor of Internet of Things.

They tie into the whole sentiment that's been created with smartphones, and people will see them as a must-have. Therefore there's a huge opportunity there for companies to manufacture the devices and offer the services around them.

The services part will be bigger than the devices, just as it has come that way with the smartphones, but the devices businesses is just one piece of the equation.

In the other areas, which you could call the more professional lives of companies and infrastructures, it's the immense reduction of maintenance costs and the savings that are possible by optimising their usage of resources.

Electricity is one very simple example. There are also incredible opportunities in the area of smart grids that save time and money on the maintenance of infrastructure.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.