This blog post introduces a joint project in which Panasonic and Fujitsu set out to deliver greater convenience and a better quality of life to society through the innovative use of smart appliances and cloud services.
The vision behind this project was to generate innovation in home appliances by combining smart appliances with cloud computing. Bysharing this vision, Panasonic and Fujitsu set themselves the challenge of creating new value that neither could have achieved alone, in the form of a new B2B service.
This project focused on the customers of food manufacturers. One of the problems faced by food manufacturers is that they launch dozens of new products onto the market every year, but have no way of finding out how consumers actually consume these products.
The project team wondered whether, by combining smart appliances and cloud services, they might be able to solve this problem. They thought that information about how consumers actually use food products could be obtained and mined for hints on developing new products, leading to improvements in products and services.
Studying food data generated by consumer testers
The smart appliances used in this project were microwave ovens. Consumer testers were recruited, and before the project started, their agreement was obtained to provide the team with certain data. The data in question concerned the length of time for which they heated microwaveable frozen foods.
Point of Sale (POS) data has been extensively used in the food industry for some time now. By connecting smart microwave ovens to a cloud service, as in this experiment, it is possible to obtain and analyze Point of Use (POU) data. In this case, the POU data included the times when the consumer testers microwaved their food, how long they microwaved each item, and which items they microwaved.
The experiment worked by using a special smartphone app. A consumer tester would scan the barcode for a frozen food item. The appropriate heating time, electricity consumption and other data would then be downloaded from a cloud database. The consumer tester would then input the number/quantity of food items to be microwaved into the app, and touch his or her smartphone to the microwave oven. The cooking time, the category and quantity of the frozen food item, and other data would then be uploaded to the cloud. In this experiment, the team also had the consumer testers upload a photo of each meal, so the team could study what they were eating.
New value created by the data
To analyze the data gathered from the consumer testers, Fujitsu provided a cloud-based convergence system. Covering everything from hardware and software to consulting, “convergence system” is a collective term for big-data analysis and other services that extract useful observations from high-volume sensing data. In this experiment, the curators, well-versed in big-data analysis, not only built a cloud service for analyzing POU data, but also focused on POU analysis and consulting.
If the widespread collection of POU data from family microwave ovens catches on in the future, food manufacturers and wholesalers might be able to use the data to optimize their inventory coordination. By enabling the accurate planning of deliveries from food factories to distributors and from distributors to consumers, this could even increase the efficiency of the industry. Again, if retailers were able to time their sale events to match patterns of consumption, food waste could be eliminated from the system, benefiting both businesses and consumers.
Towards Human Centric Innovation
By uniting three elements—consumers (i.e. consumer testers), food data obtained from smart appliances, and Fujitsu’s cloud-based analytical infrastructure—this project was designed to create a service enabling inter-industry collaboration and deliver a better quality of life to consumers. The process of drawing out the latent power of people, data, and infrastructure, and achieving new value for business and society, is known as “Human Centric Innovation.”
Through this joint project with Panasonic, Fujitsu has achieved innovation that could not only assist the business community but also deliver a better quality of life to consumers. In the future, Fujitsu intends to continue connecting businesses in a wide variety of industries, aiming to provide services and solutions that improve the quality of people’s lives.
Here at the Fujitsu Forum in Tokyo we are demonstrating how to use augmented reality and wearable devices for innovations in field service.
Fujitsu provides information via a head mount display in a timely manner by analyzing big data from equipment and hands-free work environment. By sending inspection information from an information input device, customers can share such information on-line.
This solutions offer the following benefits:
- Reduction of work load for employees in the field and efficiency in field work by using wearable devices and the Augmented Reality technology (Interstage AR Processing Server)
- Reference of work details and procedures in a timely manner with the Augmented Reality technology. In addition, improved work quality enabled by sharing of work results and matters passed on to one’s successor easily
- Work efficiency due to information reference and result entry without interrupting work enabled by wearable devices (Head mount display (HMD), wearable keyboard)
As a trusted innovation partner, Fujitsu helps people by using the power of ICT to create new value together with our customers.
Here at the Fujitsu Forum we are introducing customer case studies in which we committed to strengthening business competitiveness of our customers and addressing societal challenges.
Case Study – Mitchells & Butlers
Fujitsu partners with Mitchells & Butlers to deploy a superfast broadband network to the company’s 1,600 businesses:
Case Study – Hutchison Ports Australia
Fujitsu provides IT automation to HPA and is the single point of contact for all works at container terminals.
Case Study - Virgin Media
Fujitsu supports Virgin Media in residential and business installations and helps provide engineering services.
The five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are essential for humans to gather information. Sight is said to account for around 80% of that information and computer interfaces rely heavily on sight and hearing.
However, haven’t there been times while shopping online that you’ve thought to yourself, “I like the design, but I wish I could feel the texture…” or while reading an e-book that you’ve thought, “The feel of turning pages and the texture of paper would bring more life to the story”? The addition of touch would undoubtedly produce a greater sense of reassurance and change your impression.
Incorporating the sense of touch would surely result in interfaces that would bring us a greater sense of reality, and we are currently engaged in such research.
By replicating the sense of touch on the display, we will be able to experience the sense of touch in addition to seeing things with our eyes. The “Touch Interface” makes that a reality. We talked to Fujitsu’s Chief Researcher Yasuhiro Endo, who is actually engaged in this research, about the technology involved and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
The concept of applying as-yet unused senses to interfaces is not such a rare thing in itself. The method of controlling friction using ultrasonic vibration has been widespread for some time. So why have Fujitsu researchers now been able to achieve it with tablets for the first time?
The answer to that question is that Fujitsu researchers have been thoroughly committed to interfaces since the beginning of the mobile phone era.
The Touch Interface replicates smoothness and roughness by vibrating the surface of the touch panel at high speeds and changing the frictional resistance.
When an object is vibrated at high speed, a high-pressure air film is generated between the surface of the object and the finger, and the floating effect reduces friction. By utilizing this phenomenon and vibrating the surface of the touch panel with ultrasonic waves, it is possible to create a touch sensation of lowered frictional resistance or, in other words, a slippery, smooth sensation.
When the ultrasonic vibration stops, the normal frictional resistance of the touch panel surface is instantly restored, so a sensory illusion of a bulge is created at the boundary between the smooth, low-friction area and the rough, high-friction area. By finely controlling the ultrasonic vibrations in relation to finger movement, it is possible to convey not only smoothness but also the feeling of roughness, texture and the shape of buttons to the fingertip.
Combining the sense of touch with visual display makes it possible to create a user experience where, for example, sand on the display actually feels grainy, turning the dial on a safe feels like it’s really clicking and a waxed floor feels smooth.
The Touch Interface has the potential to create a new user experience by providing a touch sensation in addition to sight and hearing.
If buttons operated by the user feel like they stick out, it will allow the user to determine the position of the buttons just by touching them and to distinguish between different buttons. This will undoubtedly prove useful for users with sight limitations when they use touch panels. By providing the sensation of clicking when using sliders and dials, the user can move them the right amount without staring at the controls.
What are the possibilities if a more realistic touch sensation can be achieved in the future?
Say you’re shopping for a shirt online. You check the soft feel of organic cotton, the store’s recommendation, by touching the display with your fingertips. Maybe you like the feel, but you think it’s a little pricey, so you decide to check the feel of the polyester blend shirt, too. This would provide a realistic shopping experience, making it feel like you are actually in the store.
You can see and feel this tablet prototype at the Fujitsu Forum in Tokyo!
Augmented reality (AR), which shows actual information, such as images, by superimposing ICT information, such as pictures and letters, is already being used in, for example, the entertainment industry or marketing.
Here at Fujitsu Forum we are demonstrating how AR is used to carry out business by sharing information with office staff members, displaying work instructions superimposed on actual articles, visualizing the task histories and matters exchanged by people in charge, and completing tasks in the field by entering information. Fujitsu supports customers in changing their work styles based on the technical knowledge that we have accumulated via practical work both inside and outside the company and by using smart devices and AR to do business.