Japan's NTT Docomo has long been a pioneer in telecommunications innovation. However, as the lightning-fast deployment of 4G and 5G networks outpaces the development of complementary commercial services, and with widespread adoption of 6G not expected until the 2030s, the company finds itself at a crossroads. In response, NTT Docomo is shifting its research and development focus towards new ventures and services, aiming to bolster its position in the forthcoming 6G landscape, particularly with its IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) initiative.
At the recent tech showcase, Docomo Open House '24, NTT Docomo unveiled a series of groundbreaking technology services that extend beyond traditional communication realms, offering a glimpse into the company's future direction.
One such initiative involves leveraging electric vehicles (EVs) to contribute to power grids and serve as mobile base stations for disaster response and communication—a project that saw real-world testing in Japan's earthquake-affected Noto Peninsula starting January 12, 2024. This forward-thinking endeavor has captured significant attention in Japan and presents a model worth considering for regions like Taiwan, prone to natural disasters.
Looking ahead, NTT Docomo is delving into cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) applications, particularly in areas intersecting with its IOWN research. Notably, the company unveiled a pioneering AI service capable of predicting future brain changes based on current MRI scans and medical data—a development poised to address the pressing challenges of Japan's aging population, where dementia rates are projected to soar.
The current AI technology has undergone training using data from approximately 500 individuals and around 150,000 brain MRI images. Its implementation is scheduled to commence in 2025. With Japan grappling with a deepening demographic shift towards an aging population, the prevalence of age-related brain ailments is escalating, demanding urgent attention. Japanese authorities forecast that by 2025, approximately 20% of the nation's populace will be afflicted with varying degrees of cognitive impairment. Early detection and prevention strategies thus emerge as imperative imperatives.
Beyond its core telecommunications focus, NTT Docomo is eyeing consumer market opportunities. Among its forthcoming offerings is a mobile lifestyle monitoring and recommendation service powered by AI prediction technology, though a launch date is yet to be confirmed.
Additionally, NTT Docomo is set to introduce a revolutionary virtual reality (VR) avatar creation service by March 2025. Through this innovative platform, users can craft personalized avatars via text input, opening new frontiers in digital self-expression and interaction. This pioneering service is slated for initial rollout across NTT Group's extended reality (XR) subsidiary and NTT Qonoq's VR platform, DOOR.