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  7. Fujitsu Develops Platform Technology that Speeds Development of On-Site Information Exchange Services

Fujitsu Develops Platform Technology that Speeds Development of On-Site Information Exchange Services

Services can be set up quickly to facilitate connectivity and collaboration using mobile devices to bring people together

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.

Kawasaki, April 15, 2014

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced that it has developed platform technology that speeds delivery of information exchange services, such as for work collaboration or screen sharing, using devices or equipment at a given location.

Recently there has been growing interest in services that provide necessary information or applications to people who have gathered for activities at a particular place. Up until now, it was necessary to conduct various prior set-up processes or complicated programming in order to provide services that link people to people via their devices or people's devices to equipment at a given location. Now Fujitsu Laboratories has developed technology whereby services can be provided quickly to link people or equipment, without the need to register members in advance or install any drivers.

This technology cuts the time required to design and develop applications by up to 90%, compared to current methods, by linking devices and other equipment for use by people gathered at a particular location. It is expected that this technology could be used in a variety of ways, such as for facilitating group study in a school, providing product information to a customer's smart device in a store, or introducing merchandise by linking devices to a big screen display.

This technology will be exhibited at Fujitsu Forum 2014, running May 15-16 at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo.

Background

The use of smart devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is spreading in a wide variety of settings, including stores, schools, and hospitals. Fujitsu Laboratories has, for example, developed a service platform that aims to enhance work efficiency using a context switching function that converts a user's smart phone or tablet into a device available only for work-related tasks, depending on the user's situation, by delivering a particular mobile application.

Issues

In such settings as stores and schools, there is increasing use of mobile devices in circumstances in which multiple people are interacting with each other. For example, in a store, a salesperson might provide product information to a customer using a display screen. Likewise, in a classroom, a teacher might distribute teaching materials to students, or everyone might share a screen for group study. At a hospital, patients might provide information on their health condition based on a medical questionnaire. In such circumstances, there is a need for the ability to exchange a variety of information among multiple devices or pieces of equipment at a given place. Supporting the flow of information and utilizing it in such settings would make it possible to further improve efficiency.

In making this a reality, however, there have been the following problems.

1. It has not been easy for people to exchange information with each other at a location

For people to exchange information using smart devices at a given location, it has been necessary to perform various burdensome procedures, such as inputting IDs and passwords, logging on to systems, and designating the people with whom you will be communicating with.

2. It has not been easy for people to exchange information with equipment at a location

For people to exchange information with equipment using smart devices at a given location, it has been necessary to install drivers for the equipment in their devices and then detect and designate the proper equipment.

3. Developing service applications has been time-consuming and burdensome

Developing services that enable the exchange of information between the smart devices of people at a certain location and between devices and equipment required applications to be developed and the construction of a server system to handle the functions required to link the different pieces of equipment.

The New Technology

To resolve these issues, the following three technologies were developed and integrated into a service platform, along with a local application store for the distribution of applications to smart devices (Figure 1). In this way, for instance, a single server for a local environment is enough to start actual communication between devices where people gather.

Figure 1: The Newly Developed Service Platform

Figure 1: The Newly Developed Service Platform

1. Technology for localized links among smart devices

With this technology, first a place is defined that corresponds to an ID, such as recorded with Wi-Fi access points or NFC tags . Next, a server automatically sends mobile applications to smart devices recognized to be at that location so that they can be linked with other devices in the same area. As a result, an information channel with a communications pathway that is limited to the immediate area is created, enabling information to be exchanged on the spot (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Technology for linking smart devices

Figure 2: Technology for linking smart devices

2. Virtualization of local equipment

For the physical input/output equipment in a given place, a virtual driver is created with the basic functions of each piece of equipment, such as a display screen or pointing device, and the virtual driver assimilates the functional differences between each piece of equipment. The equipment at the place is linked together via a service application programming interface (API) that uses the driver. The equipment can therefore immediately be used on the spot without the need to bother with burdensome settings on a smart device (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Equipment virtualization

Figure 3: Equipment virtualization

3. Local web services

To enable devices to exchange information with each other and with equipment at a given location, the required functions shared in common for development, such as functions for communications or for shared memory controls among the applications, are provided as a local Web service API. Mobile application developers need use only this API to execute functions, such as communications among the applications, or the export of a screen image on a device to a larger on-site display screen, without the need for any work on the server system or to develop a library of software to enable its use (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Local web services

Figure 4: Local web services

Results

Through the use of this service platform, it is possible for users to exchange information with their smart devices on the spot when they get together, and they can also link their devices to equipment for use at the location without the need to set up links in advance, thereby making on-site tasks more efficient. In addition, because developers can use, via a service API from the applications, local web services that provide a variety of shared functions, applications can be developed with roughly as little as10% of the development work previously required. It is envisioned that this technology will be used in a variety of ways, such as facilitating group study in a school, providing product information to a customer's smart device in a store, or introducing products using a big screen display.

Future Plans

Fujitsu Laboratories plans to perform verification testing of this service platform technology, confirming its utility and enhancing its functions, and will consider creating templates or solutions for different usage scenarios with the aim of bringing it into practical application within fiscal 2014.

About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Approximately 170,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.4 trillion yen (US$47 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.

About Fujitsu Laboratories

Founded in 1968 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. is one of the premier research centers in the world. With a global network of laboratories in Japan, China, the United States and Europe, the organization conducts a wide range of basic and applied research in the areas of Next-generation Services, Computer Servers, Networks, Electronic Devices and Advanced Materials. For more information, please see: http://jp.fujitsu.com/labs/en.

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All company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.


Date: 15 April, 2014
City: Kawasaki
Company: Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd.

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