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Embedded Systems Will Be Everywhere, Expert Predicts

Japan is field-testing RFID tags to provide information about "places" rather than things; uses include guidance for the visually impaired and information services for tourists.
TOKYO — Embedded systems will be ubiquitous, according to a University of Tokyo professor.

In a keynote speech at the Embedded Systems Expo & Conference here this week, Ken Sakamura described a future in which information access is constant and ubiquitous. The later term describes Japan's future vision of embedded systems, which is dubbed "pervasive computing" in the United States and "ambient intelligence" in Europe.

Sakamura developed TRON — The Real-time Operating system Nucleus architechture — in the mid-1980s. The embedded version iTRON, is a de facto standard real-time operating system widely used here, especially in mobile phones.

In an attempt to build a "ubiquitous" society, Sakamura reported on the field testing of the Free Mobility Assistant Project by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT). Sakamura is the chairman of the project promotion committee.

The field test started in June in Kobe using over 40,000 RFID tags embedded in various places and information viewers. RFID tags normally used to track commercial items were used to provide information about "places" rather than things.

The tag infrastructure is expected to have great potential. Among the possible applications are guidance for the visually impaired and information services for tourists.

By establishing technical specifications during the field test, MLIT intends to expand the project throughout Japan. "At the base of the infrastructure, there exists embedded systems," said Sakamura.