TV turning SMART

 Much attention is currently on high-definition television standards, with 4K (full high-definition) and 8K (Super Hi-Vision). High-definition models are also on display at CREATEC and InterBEE, standing matchless together with SMART TV.

 I have been focusing on Smart TV. While the 4K and 8K technology is a technology to make things look beautiful, the Smart TV is a technology for convenience. Beauty or convenience? While it is ideal to achieve both, there are restrictions on available resources. 

 Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting has achieved a beautiful and convenient television. It is high-definition and it can be used like a computer. The next question however is, “4K or Smart?”. There are people who are convinced that 4K will be a trump card for struggling Japanese manufacturers in the industry. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is also probably holding high expectation for this. On the contrary, I personally believe that SMART TV is the destination we should go for. 

 In any case, television has become much prettier with Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting. Many families have bought new television receivers to replace their old ones. Do they need more beautiful images on the TV screen now?
 Hearing from some cable distributor companies, it seems that high-definition HD transmission has not yet exceeded 25%, and that there is still a lot of room for improvements for past SD images. But do we really need more high-definition pictures? 
 On the other hand, Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting has not been able to achieve the point on convenience. Interesting services only available in digital has not yet been developed. Instead, this part has been surmised well by smartphones and tablets.  The fusion of TV and smartphone can create new rich services, and created new businesses beside traditional TV advertisements. We are able to see new needs and market from here. 

 At the same time however, there are still much more that can be expected from 4K and 8K as they play a driving force for open data and digital signage. I think this is promising considering that businesses might consider the commercial use. 4K business might appear faster than Smart TV broadcast. 
  A more compelling need however, might be the big data utilization of videos. If we are able to obtain fine images by extracting, processing and analyzing data taken from surveillance cameras as a mechanical system instead of the traditional visual approach, the potential usages would widen.  Hence, I feel that the applicability of ultra-high-definition quality of 8K would align more for machines rather than humans.  


TV stations turning into offensive

 There was an article saying that YouTube is turning into a television. It is said that YouTube is adopting the following three measures: channel organization, video increase, and strengthening of advertisements. It has been nine years since YouTube started its services in 2005, and YouTube has been earnest in its efforts to become a PC-based media television. While this will increase competition in the television industry, cooperation is also likely to increase. 

 This is inevitable. First starting as PC-based, tablets and smartphones have gotten popular in the last 5 years, and Smart TV has also appeared in the last 2-3 years. This corresponds to the changes we see in the media industry. Also, television-based advertising forms the biggest component in advertising, at 2 trillion yen which consequently has become the focal point of businesses. 
 The competition will increase even more. Apple, video delivery service Hulu and movie service Netflix, both created by American television stations, have started to put more emphasis. Japanese TV stations are also beginning to be put more focus on such services. The seat for this platform of bundled services is being contested, with each competitor seeking to establish its dominance as soon as possible. 

 TBS, Asahi TV and Fuji TV have started their video streaming on YouTube. TV stations are beginning to dwell into the fusion with communication. The TV stations have a reason for doing this. Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting is now complete and TV replacement purchases have been done. But honestly, how is it? Images are now more beautiful but are they really much better? We are demanding convenient and interesting service which can only be gotten from digital broadcasting. It is a direction towards the usage of smartphone and Internet. 
  Competition has also become much more intense. As it was once a golden business in the past, getting into Internet advertising was out of many businesses’ strategy. However, as the advertising market started to shrink, many businesses decide to go ahead with social media and Internet. We have reached a stage where defensive has turned into offensive. 

  I am sure we will continue to have TV screens. However, TV programs in real-time will likely decrease, and the use of multi-screen will increase at the same time. How much position will TV station content occupy as the diversification of recorded programs, online content, social services and others continues? 
  A television does not only have programs, but also radio waves. Even with digitization, it will not work well if the same programs are being broadcasted still. Newspapers, magazines and other social content have other uses when they are digitized, with business opportunities expanded. I hope the TV industry can also put more emphasis in this regard. 


My beloved light from Kolkata

 Kolkata, known as Calcutta in the past. Until 1911 when the capital was moved to Delhi, Kolkata functioned as the capital of India for a very long time. Being the most chaotic city in India, it exudes a mysterious energy. 

  I wandered into the dim market. The stench of meat, internal organs and skin of beasts. Fresh blood is flowing under my feet like a river. Herds of black and white goats are tied together. Many chickens in the net are making noises. A group of men are fielding them silently. Killing them at this place, cleaning up at this place, and selling them at this place as items. Slaughter, dissection, selling them as meat and also a small side business.  “Fresh, fresh”. I was pressed against the meat. Certainly, it was very fresh indeed. 

Heads fell as “Ha!” creped out from his throat. Every morning 20 goats are offered as sacrifices. This proceeding is witnessed by Hindu devotees watching gratefully. Besides that, five young black goats that were slashed were lying around. They seemed to eat the bodies. In this Kali temple, there is a pond for bathing and a statue of Lord Shiva is nestled on the edge. The person in charge of the temple beckoned to me. I wonder what it is. “How many of you in the family?”. “Four of us.”, I replied. “In that case please pay 4000 rupees, thank you”.  Why?

Cars laden with loudspeakers and terrifying-looking women, with onlookers surrounding them. They occupied the road and the horns became more and more intense. Protests seemed to be occupying the city in response to the group rape in Delhi. Mother Theresa began her activities in this street, where passion seems to suit this place very well. However, leaving the hustle and bustle one step back led to a morass where a man is crouching on the edge. He was not taking a break, but trying to avoid the wear of his movement. Quietness, sitting still, is being thought in the majority of the days. Well no, as there were also several people moving around. They fished with poor fishing tools, staring into the quietness around. 

  The roads that I know of in Japan are always clean and peaceful, where begging and plagues are gone, brawls and angry voices are reduced, odors are removed, and horns cannot be heard that often. Will Kolkata become like that in the future? That might happen. Nonetheless, I feel that the chaos in the city cannot be compared to anywhere else in the world. With a population of 5 million people in this ancient civilization plagued with tremendous poverty, hope for growth is swirling around. This glitter, clean and peaceful, changing into a smile must be a lovely thing for Kolkata, for India, and for Japan who hopes that it can be a source of energy for India. 
  But to me, this glare, this alien world, is reflected in an irreplaceable beloved light. 


I learnt about MIT Lab again

I was once a member of MIT Media Lab, known as the mecca of digital technology since the 1980s. Former director of Media Lab, Frank Moss has authored a book titled, “MIT Media Lab”. It is a book deciphering the relationship between universities and the digital world today. 

However, viewing from the conventional image of Media Lab, we can see considerable change in its form. Rather than focusing on media, Media Lab has been focused on robotic prosthetic leg, discovery of incurable diseases, city cars. Rather than media development, the organization is more inclined to the beneficial public application of digital technology. Have we come to the limit of media development? 

In retrospect, the book (used in Kindle) also introduces examples where Media Lab has penetrated the real world, such as e-Ink, Lego Mindstorms, and $100 personal computers. It was 2001 when my group proposed $100 PC. We do not hear much of the results of the lab since then. 

However, the digital realm has developed explosively in the past 10 years, such as multi-display, cloud network and social services. This has changed the PC, mobile and Internet environment 10 years ago. 
Within this media upheaval, Google (Stanford), Facebook (Harvard) has shown output but what has Media Lab produced? To be honest, isn’t it in deep distress as you would expect from a famous lab?

Ten years ago, I published a sketch of Media Lab titled, “Toy Box of the digital world”. At that time, there was a lot of excitement in the research field. By the way, as there is a preface of my humble book here, please take a look to get a reference of the atmosphere at that point of time. 

On the other hand, we are in a situation where large companies are abolishing their research departments. Dr. Negroponte, the founder of Media Lab, mentioned that “it is more effective to invest in MIT than creating a research department”. Will there be any chance for you to come to the university again? Or changing the scene, will you go towards a different direction if you are not able to go back to university with the company’s money?