By Motoaki Ito, Enlight, Inc. and Yoichiro Ando, SEMI Japan
The show floor at SEMICON Japan (December 13-15, 2017, at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo) brimmed with happy faces reflecting a record great year in which semiconductor equipment sales jumped 36 percent and wafer fab materials sales rose by 10 percent year over year. But visitors to the last SEMICON in 2017 had another reason to be buoyant – the chance to mine opportunities for more growth in the coming years. The WORLD OF IOT, a special showcase within SEMICON Japan featuring more than 90 IoT and smart application exhibitors, brought those opportunities into clear view.
Softbank CUBE robot expands robot applications
Softbank, which acquired Arm in 2016, exhibited at WORLD OF IOT for the first time, showcasing a full range of IoT services including the exhibit’s biggest draw – the Softbank 5G connected robot “Cube” under development in collaboration with Huawei. The autonomous Cube robot used laser sensors to build a room map and sidestep obstacles. Built with inexpensive, off-the-shelf commercial components, the Cube robot blends cloud computing and 5G connectivity to open doors to new applications through low-cost robotics.
Panasonic enables fuel cell for safe home use
Panasonic exhibited a hydrogen sensor system that will make fuel cell batteries safe for home. The sensor communicates system data through wifi for easy installation at point-of-use to indicate any hydrogen leakage risk. By employing ReRAM memory technology, the system reduces standby power consumption to 0.01mW, enabling five to six years of operation with a single battery. While ReRAM ordinarily uses oxidation-reduction reaction to write data, Panasonic developed a new metal oxide to react on the hydrogen-reduction.
“Hydrogen-powered fuel cells -- known in Japan as ene-farms -- promise to revolutionize the way energy is delivered to the home,” Bloomberg Technology reported. “Ene-farms use natural gas pumped from local utilities into a fuel cell that uses a processor to extract hydrogen. The hydrogen is mixed with oxygen from the surrounding air to produce electricity, with excess heat used to supply a home with hot water.”
Sony’s low power single board computer eases IoT terminals
The complexity of IoT terminal designs varies widely depending on the application, making simple designs a key to expanding the IoT market. With that goal in mind, Sony’s single-board, low-power SPRITZER smart sensing processor features a built-in GPS receiver and audio codec. The SPRITZER’s CXD5602GG processor features six ARM Cortex-M4F cores, a Global Navigation Satellite System, high resolution audio, and 9-axis sensors to deliver the advanced processing required for robotics and drone controls.
Toyota shrinks power control by five times
Toyota, a WORLD OF IOT exhibitor for the past four years, has used SiC devices to shrink its power control unit by five times, improving power efficiency and driving range in the growing market for hybrid and electric vehicles. Smaller battery size and longer battery life are expected to help offset the higher SiC chip cost. Efficient power control is key in the mix of enabling technologies – including AI, sensors and wireless communications – for electric autonomous vehicles.
Looking ahead to SEMICON Japan 2018, the WORLD of IT showcase will be expanded and integrated on the show floor as “SMART Application Zone” for another opportunity to connect with among the best, most innovative companies in the Japan supply chain. Exhibit applications are now being accepted at www.semiconjapan.org.
February 6, 2018