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Why Japan Hasn’t Led IoT

YOKOHAMA, Japan — During his keynote speech at the Embedded/IoT Technology conference here Wednesday, Ken Sakamura, creator of TRON, Japan’s home-grown open real-time operating system, blasted Japanese embedded systems designers for their inability to lead the Internet of Things on the world stage.

Ken Sakamura
(Image: EE Times)

Ken Sakamura
(Image: EE Times)

Sakamura, professor at the University of Tokyo, has always been an out-of-the-box thinker, provocative speaker and passionate proponent for next-generation computing architecture. He has spent most of his professional life developing TRON and promoting such concepts as pervasive or ubiquitous computing in Japan.

Sakamura claims that he envisioned the concept of an “Intelligent Object Network” — similar to IoT — as one of the TRON’s objectives as far as back in 1987.

Intelligent Object Network

Intelligent Object Network

Sakamura spoke with no holds barred about his disappointment with the Japanese embedded community.  “Japan simply let Germany initiate ‘Industry 4.0’ policy, while allowing the United States to lead the Industrial Internet Consortium,” Sakamura said.  Japan’s embedded designers, despite years of experience in embedded RTOS and familiarity with ubiquitous computing, haven’t made an attempt to take the initiative in global IoT development.

Instead, said Sakamura, they sat back, letting others do the hard work and define the ‘IoT’ spec in hopes of “getting their hands on the ‘winning’ global standard soonest to run with it.”  He criticized Japanese engineers for skipping the critical process of developing standards and being too narrowly focused on rolling out commercial products.

Referring to a recent conversation with German engineers, he said, “I am told that Germany is flooded with inquiries from Japan on Industry 4.0.”

Japanese engineers are apparently looking for a technical standard called Industry 4.0, not realizing that Industry 4.0 is Germany’s policy. It’s not a technical spec, Sakamura explained.

Japan: Good at closed IoT, but not open IoT
Sakamura, during his speech, talked of revolutionary changes in the engineering world today, as the market moves from closed IoT to open IoT.

“The key here is the Internet,” he stressed. As long as you keep the rules — TCP/IP protocols — intact, anyone can connect anything with the network, he noted. “No permission needed. That’s the beauty of open IoT.”

Openness has become pervasive in every aspect of engineering practice. It starts from open architecture, continues with open-source hardware and open OS, open API and goes all the way up to open data, Sakamura explained.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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