Business / Tech | CEATEC 2019 Special

EVENT OVERVIEW

An innovative peek into tech of tomorrow

by Maiko Muraoka

Contributing Writer

CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) is an annual event where innovative technologies, products and services are all exhibited together in one place to illustrate what a future society may be like.

This year’s CEATEC, for which The Japan Times is a prime media partner, will be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture from Oct. 15 to 18. It requires preregistration from all visitors on the CEATEC website, www.ceatec.com. People can also register online at the venue reception area during the event.

The event, sponsored by the CEATEC Executive Board, comprised of the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, the Communications and Information Network Association of Japan and the Computer Software Association of Japan, consists of two major parts — an exhibition and a conference.

The exhibition is made up of three main areas: “Total Solution” for products and solutions that are designed to realize Society 5.0, an ultra-smart society where people can enjoy comfortable and active lives; “Smart X” for innovations that are expected to bring about revolutionary changes in specific industries; and “Devices and Technologies” for showcasing electronic components, devices, software and other technologies that are meant to support Society 5.0.

In addition, there will be two themed exhibits. One is a Society 5.0 Town in the central area of the venue. It showcases what a society may be like in 10 years, through exhibits of about 70 independent booths of companies from various sectors, each offering products and services that make peoples’ lives convenient and more efficient.

The participating companies vary greatly in size, industry and specialization. There will be booths set up by Japan’s four major construction companies, gas and electricity companies, transportation companies including ANA Holdings Inc., which will participate in CEATEC for the first time. Various sectors are represented including travel, housing, entertainment, finance, medical services, retail, manufacturing and IT, among others.

“The booths will be lined up along the street that runs through the center of the Society 5.0 Town, making it possible for visitors to experience the city of 2030,” said Kiyoshi Shikano, the executive producer of CEATEC, during an interview with The Japan Times.

There will also be a co-creation zone in the Society 5.0 Town. Some of the exhibitors participating in this area collaborated to combine their technologies to introduce new goods and services at the event. This is what makes CEATEC unique — it encourages open innovation among exhibitors from different industries whereas typical trade fairs and exhibitions embody a collection of various companies organized by industry.

The other planned exhibit is Co-creation Park, where startups from Japan and abroad gather and a Global Pavilion Zone comprised of organizations and companies from Switzerland and Russia, as well as several other countries.

Shikano stressed that it is important to offer students opportunities to think about the future as the main players of the next-generation society. For that purpose, a lounge area for students will be set up inside the venue where students can meet with businesspeople, gather information about various companies and learn about diverse industries.

This year’s CEATEC also offers a special exhibit named Trend Watch that commemorates the 20th anniversary of the event. It is divided into three categories, with the Mobility section displaying a fully autonomous car, the Smart Life section presenting various “internet of things” solutions to utilize big data, and the 5G section exhibiting telecommunications carriers and mobile parts manufactures.

An autonomous car will also run on the route connecting Makuhari Messe and Makuhari Station. “It is a rare thing that a fully autonomous car carrying passengers drives on a public road with normal traffic,” said Shikano. Visitors can take the 15-minute ride on a reservation basis.

During the four days of the exhibition, the startup First Pitch Contest will be held in collaboration with CEATEC’s global partner, Plug and Play Japan. Four winners will be selected among the startups participating in the contest and they will receive various benefits to help boost their businesses.

There will also be an awards ceremony for the CEATEC Award 2019 during the exhibition. Entry applications and screening are conducted prior to the show to select technologies, products and services that are highly innovative in terms of academic, technological, marketing, potential and other perspectives. The awards ceremony of Ministerial Awards will be held on Oct. 15 and that of Special Awards and Category Awards on Oct. 16.

At the conference, visitors can listen to and learn from the leaders and experts in various sectors and fields. During the morning of Oct. 15, Nick Parker, a corporate vice president of the Consumer and Device Sales of Microsoft Corp., and two other corporate officials from the company will deliver a speech, “Society 5.0 Built with the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge,” after the opening ceremony in a hall that accommodates 1,000 people.

In the afternoon, representatives from ANA, JTB Corp. and Japan Taxi Co. will give speeches in the same room.

On Oct. 16, speeches and panel discussions will center on the theme of 5G and communications. Leaders from the four major telecommunications carriers in Japan, ministry officials and other experts in the field will speak on various issues.

The main theme for Oct. 17 is artificial intelligence. Representatives from Philips Japan Ltd., Amazon Japan G.K., and Toshiba Corp. will speak under the theme, “Use of AI Technologies toward DX (Digital Transformation) Realization and Challenges.”

On Oct. 18, mobility innovation will be the main theme of the day, and a director-general from the city of Chiba, a national strategic special zone for autonomous vehicles and drones, will join the panel discussion under the theme of “Draw the smart mobility in the near future.”

There will be 120 to 130 conferences altogether over four days, including smaller sessions covering diverse technological and business trends. Simultaneous interpretation is available at major conferences via the official CEATEC app. It is advised that visitors install the app on their smartphones before attending the conferences and bring headphones.

“The exhibition areas and conferences are designed to supplement each other,” said Shikano. He expressed his hope that visitors will not just come once, but return the next day because there will be new discoveries every day during CEATEC 2019.

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