Site: Fujitsu Laboratories, Ltd.
64 Nishiwaki, Okubo-cho
Akashi 674, Japan
Date Visited: May 23, 1995
Report Author: T. Skelly
Fujitsu has three overlapping product categories: computers and data processing systems, telecommunications, and electronic devices. As of June 1994, 70% of the company's unconsolidated net sales were in computers and data processing, representing sales of ¥1.513 trillion (~$15 billion) for the 1994 fiscal year. The company slogan is, "What mankind can dream, technology can achieve."
Fujitsu Laboratories, Ltd., was created in 1962 through the merger of R&D sections previously managed by separate technical divisions. In 1968, it was spun off as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujitsu, Ltd. It now has approximately 1,650 employees and capital of ¥5 billion (~$50 million).
The laboratory was established to develop computer and telecommunications hardware and software, multimedia applications, human interfaces, and new materials and devices.
Fujitsu Laboratories consists of five separate laboratories: the Multimedia Systems Laboratories, researching systems, software, and infrastructural technology for multimedia; the Personal Systems Laboratories, focusing on systems and devices for information processing at home and in the office; the Electronic Systems Laboratories, focusing on peripherals and imaging, sensing, and control technologies; the Electron Devices and Materials Laboratories, focusing on ULSIs and optoelectronic devices and materials; and the Institute for Social Information Science, specializing in information science.
The JTEC team visited the Personal Systems Laboratories, located in Akashi. Research being conducted here focuses on distributed systems, personal computing, the human-computer interface, applied systems, the magneto-optical disk, display devices, media devices, and electronics packaging.
The Fujitsu Personal Systems Laboratories are pursuing a broad range of research activities, as described by the presenters:
Following an introduction to Fujitsu and Fujitsu Laboratories by Dr. Shuzo Morita, Dr. Shinya Hasuo described research on "Kikou," the "my way" project. This project is actually a series of unique and adventurous research projects, including a prototype of automated robot legs controlled by the user shifting his or her weight in the seat. Dr. Takashi Toriu discussed human vision and methods of generating apparent motion within random dot fields, and Eiichiro Yamamoto discussed some results of the MITI project, "Friend 21."
The presentations concluded with Dr. Morita showing a video of his work with artificial creatures (see Fig. 4.3). Of interest was that the immersion effect that was achieved with a very large screen rather than head-mounted displays, allowing multiple users to participate. As Dr. Morita is fundamentally interested in exploring the emotional side of human-computer interaction, his creatures did not speak (though they did sing) but rather behaved as playful pets would. Another experiment with his creatures that incorporated broadcast video and phone-in callers produced an entertaining example of interactive television.
Following a break, the JTEC team saw several demonstrations. Mr. Katsuyama discussed "MONSTER," a broadband ISDN workstation with enough capacity to handle multiple moving images. A particular feature of this project was its emphasis on preserving the look and feel of books and paper. T. Kakimoto demonstrated the Electronic Library, an interface for retrieving network library information, which included machine translation capabilities.
Probably the most captivating demonstration was an entertainment product currently under development. Called "Teo, another Earth," it featured an extremely well-executed refinement of Dr. Morita's artificial creatures (see Fig. 4.4). The featured character, a dolphin-shaped bird, sang, ate, and generally behaved like a shy wild creature that the user could gradually make friends with. It was charming.
The Fujitsu Personal Systems Laboratories represented a quirky change of pace for the JTEC team. The friendly researchers and almost playful atmosphere demonstrated that a large corporation can maintain contact with a part of the human-computer experience usually ignored by most researchers.
Fujitsu Laboratories. Corporate brochures.
Katsuyama, T., H. Kamata, S. Okuyama, T. Suzuki, Y. Minakuchi, K. Yano. 1993. Multimedia paper services/Human interfaces and multimedia communication workstation for broadband ISDN environments. IEICE Trans. Commun. E76-B (3).