R&D TECHNOLOGIES

Cutting-edge NTT communication technology that will change the world

New way of communication achieved by the new technology CUzo A Dream Becomes Reality; Technology Like That in Science Fiction Supports Tokyo 2020

R&D TECHNOLOGIESNew way of communication achieved by the new technology CUzoA Dream Becomes Reality; Technology Like That in Science Fiction Supports Tokyo 2020

Takashi Nakata
CUzo is a companion that runs with you, no matter the obstacles

Simply hold a transparent screen over an object to immediately see the object's data and information.
A future thus far seen only in science fiction movies and anime has now become a reality with CUzo, NTT's feature-distribution communication technology. The key has been to put processing features usually found inside the device on the network, thus dramatically simplifying the device itself. Using the clear, small CUzo display enables people to obtain information about things nearby and to enjoy multi-lingual communication.

TECHNOLOGIES

Novel but natural, high-tech yet gentleCUzo Embodies the Future of Communication

One of NTT's missions is to support the event with communication service. That's where CUzo comes in as a technology that can place features (for example, speech recognition and image recognition) on the network. Nothing unnatural or complex is required. Exciting event guidance can be realized simply by displaying facility information and translating conversations on compact and transparent screen, which is certainly something exciting to see for event visitors. What this cutting-edge communication technology portends is a way of communication with all kinds of people, from children to adults, that transcends the boundaries of language.

An innovative and compact new communication form

CUzo is a feature-distributing technology that places all processing features in the cloud, connecting them by transmission. This makes the device itself incredibly simple and compact. Features can also be scaled up effortlessly. NTT plans to offer this small transparent display, which is based on this advanced communication technology, to support the operations of the Tokyo 2020 Games at three venues: the Olympic Stadium, Yoyogi National Stadium, and Enoshima Yacht Harbor.

*From a document summarizing CUzo
Link to a document summarizing CUzohttps://www.ntt.co.jp/event/2018/pdf/ceatec18/12_future-tech_ntt.pdf

Just hold it up to access all kinds of information

Based on CUzo's communication technology, translucent screen realizes an AR (augmented reality) and 3D-based information guidance system. It enables you to see text on its clear screen overlaid on landscapes and landmarks, showing information about bathrooms, kiosks, and medical facilities at the event venue in an easy-to-see manner with just the press of a button. AR also empowers the user to display the route to one's destination superimposed on one's actual view through on-screen text. All the user needs to do upon spotting an entrance or exit is just to hold the device in space. There is none of the hassle of holding a map in your hand and comparing it against your surroundings, so you can access information on your destination and current location more intuitively.

Enjoy conversations with foreign language speakers through the translucent screen

CUzo transmits all kinds of processing features over the network, including a translation feature. Holding the translucent screen in space and speaking, what you say is shown translated on the opposite side of the screen, and what the other person said will also be translated and shown on your side of the screen. The translucent display enables natural communication, allowing the two of you to look at each other and see each other's gestures beyond the screen.

INTERVIEW

CUzo is a companion that runs with you, no matter the obstacles

Takashi Nakata
Takashi Nakata

Takashi got his start in field athletics in junior high school. While a university student, he ranked 7th in Japan's inter-college competition. After graduating, he continued the sport while working for NTT Data, and he started to run as a companion in 2003. In 2004, he raced with Yuichi Takahashi in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, winning the marathon. He has continued to run alongside handicapped runners and in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, he ran alongside Shinya Wada, winning his first medal (third place) for a long-distance standing run. Currently, he is training with Yuichi Takahashi as a Para Triathlon guide toward the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and Paris 2024. *As of July 2021

Running together with a visually impaired partner linked by one piece of rope, moving faster and more safely toward the goal—as a companion runner, Takashi Nakata is a professional supporter, having taken part in three Paralympic Games so far and winning two medals. We asked him about his expectations for CUzo, which supports the Tokyo 2020 Games, and what he thinks of CUzo's potential from his perspective as a companion runner.

I want to do everything for my runners to achieve results
-After running in the Paralympic Games in the marathon and track events as a companion, you are now working as a Para Triathlon guide. Please tell us why you started supporting runners with visual impairments.

Nakata I got my start in field athletics in junior high school and continued through high school, university, and now work. But it wasn't until 2003 that I started running alongside handicapped runners. I came across a field athletics magazine ad by Yuichi Takahashi, the blind marathon runner looking to compete in the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, who was looking for someone to run alongside him. When I read the ad, I realized for the first time that for handicapped runners to run with all their might, they need a companion runner who can run better than they can. I wanted to be that support to help them give 100% in their runs, so I immediately got in touch with Yuichi and started running alongside him.

-When you are running alongside a runner, what do you actually say to them?

Nakata There are two things I tell them. First, I try to help them run safely and enjoy running. I will say, "30 more meters and turn right at 90 degrees. 20 meters, 10 meters... now turn!," informing them of the actual route they have to take. I also provide strategic advice, such as "You have that Kenyan runner 20 meters ahead" and "There is a Russian runner behind you to the right, but he seems to be struggling." I say these things so that my runner can understand the situation and where the other runners are. This strategic calling also includes words of encouragement like "Come on!". I adjust the content of my messages and the tone of my voice as well as phrasing according to each runner's personality and the race situation. Runners begin to lose focus when they start to get tired, so I make sure to speak clearly and be easy to hear.

-Do you also support the runners outside of competition?

Nakata I place importance on dietary support. In particular, when we compete overseas, I make sure to locate a food store near the hotel in advance. Also, for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, we knew beforehand that the hotel did not have a bathtub in the guestroom, so we brought a plastic pool from Japan. I am not offering this support because I am a companion or because my runner has a disability and is inconvenienced. Rather, I perceive myself as a competing athlete, and I feel I need to do everything I can to achieve the best performance possible.

-It seems as if you have a stronger connection and more teamwork than what you would expect from a runner and someone running alongside.

Nakata That's right. In the Paralympic Games, companions are also categorized as athletes and are awarded medals with their runners. For companions, the most important thing is their trust in their runners. In the sense that you need to build trust and pursue results, it is the same as team sports like football and basketball.

We want people to see handicapped runners and their supporters trusting one another and running together
-For people who got inspired by the Tokyo 2020 Games and will be watching Para Athletics and the Para Triathlon, what should they pay attention to, and what may interest them?

Nakata I want people to see how amazing the athletes in each category are. In addition, you will find that there are many types of supporters supporting the athletes, including companion runners, keepers for Football 5-a-side, handlers who help the athletes put on and take off their wear when they switch sports in the Para Triathlon, callers who inform long jumpers of the direction, and tappers who tap on swimmers' heads when they need to turn after a lap. Handicapped athletes and their supporters trusting one another and competing together is a picture of co-living in a barrier-free society. I would like the people watching the Paralympic Games to focus on such scenes.

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-CUzo is a technology for putting speech recognition and image recognition features onto a network. It is expected to support athletes and visitors through its translucent display. When you actually had a look, what did you think?

Nakata First, it will help us transcend all barriers, such as those of language and disability. It goes very well with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Speaking of person-to-person translation, we attended a competition in Spain the other day. We spoke English, but some people didn't understand what we were saying, so we tried to have conversation while looking at a smartphone translation app and then talking, but this new communication device enables us to converse while looking at each other, which is very appealing.

-Does CUzo have anything in common with your role as a companion?

Nakata Yes. CUzo is indeed a companion because it is always by your side in day-to-day life and supports you when you are in trouble. Even if there are language barriers, CUzo will connect you and the other person and give you first-hand information about things you don't know or understand. It could potentially realize a world in which everyone can go out safely on their own.

-So CUzo has the potential to evolve further. Lastly, tell us about your personal goals, and do you have any message for the people watching the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020?

Nakata I personally want to support as many people as possible who are doing para-sports. Right now, partly because of COVID-19, it is hard for athletes to find companions for training and competitions. I want to keep training myself so that I can be of use to them when they need me. I mentioned that people in various roles support para-sports. I am sure everyone has an area in which they excel, so I would like everyone to make the most of their skills and together create a world in which we can support one another.
I will contribute through sports, and new technologies like CUzo will also be part of building such a world. This might sound a little cheesy, but in essence, my message to everyone is "Let's work together!" (laughter.)

All processing features are placed on the network, raising expectations for improved daily living.

CUzo may eliminate the need for devices to store applications and processing features. In the future, the devices we use daily are expected to become even smaller, lighter, speedier, and more multi-functional.
NTT will continue its research and development of user interfaces that everyone can access effortlessly, creating value for a new future in sports, tourism, and entertainment with advanced communication technology.

Para Triathlon rules and what to watch for

Source: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games website
Link to Para Triathlon Pagehttps://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/en/paralympics/sports/triathlon/

Outline of the sport
In a triathlon, athletes compete in all three categories (swimming, cycling, and running) consecutively in a race to achieve the best total time. The Para Triathlon has been an official category since the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games. The race's distance is about half that of the Olympic Games, known as the "sprint distance," which is 750 m for swimming, 20 km for cycling, and 5 km for running, coming to a total of 25.75 km. A race is held for each class in both men's and women's categories.

The Para Triathlon is split into six classes according to the type and level of disability, and the way to compete differs somewhat among classes. In the seated class (PTWC), hand cycles are used for cycling, and competition wheelchairs for running. For the standing class (PTS2–5), athletes can use assistive tools such as prosthetic legs and have their bikes modified according to their level of disability. In the visual impairment class (PTVI), athletes compete with one companion of the same sex throughout the competition. Watch for the "transition," the process in which the athletes switch from swimming to cycling, and from cycling to running.

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