The Japanese are crazy about taking miniature pictures of themselves

I recently took a school field trip to Japan.  We are studying innovation and technology in the MSBA program at UM, so I was excited to see what was happening over there.  Throughout our journey we were shuttled to various tourist attractions:  Mount Aso (an active volcano), Kumamoto castle, Shibuya square in Tokyo, Senso-ji temple, and others.

mount aso volcano    kumamoto castle japan

shibuya crossing at night    sensoji temple

One day we were going to visit a place called the Yokosuka Research Park, just a short drive from Tokyo.  We were lucky enough to have a UM professor of Japanese language literature guiding us around Japan.  On the way he recounted a visit to Japan earlier in his life (maybe late 1990’s) when he noticed some ‘new technology’ the Japanese had just begun using at the time.  “It was a way for people to take a picture on a cellular phone and send it to another person….What an odd thing and it was hard to imagine what people would want this for.  I was sure this would be a fad and would never catch on.”

Image result for Yokosuka Research Park

BBC news reports in this article 9/18/2001 and asks readers “What would you do with a gadget like this, particularly as it costs nearly US $500?”

  • “Infinite uses for the teenager, not entirely sure what the rest of us would do with one though.”
  • “I would use the camera phone to take pictures of my best friend, my dog Benson.”
  • “Great for spying. The camera could be held against a keyhole, and the images immediately sent to any interested parties.”

Keep in mind myspace.com wasn’t launched until 2003, facebook.com in 2004.  In this case, the innovation created the need, instead of the need creating the innovation.  This is what we were thinking about as we visited the place where they basically invented the camera phone.

So what did we discover the Japanese are developing there today:  the simple answer is 5G.

Here are a few quick facts about 5G:

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors

Again, it is hard to know exactly what people will do with this, but here is their vision of the year 2020 with 5G

Thanks for reading!
David Brewer

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