TOKYO -- Japan will soon partner with U.S. companies and the German government to create international standards for the "internet of things," laying the ground for the three nations to work together to bring the nascent technology to the mainstream.
Japan's IoT Acceleration Consortium will swap memorandums of understanding with two American groups in October, kicking off practical work such as tech experiments. The Japanese body brings together the communications ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with more than 2,000 domestic and foreign companies such as Toyota Motor and Hitachi. The American contingent includes the Industrial Internet Consortium, founded by such industrial giants as General Electric and Intel.
Around the same time, the Japanese and German governments will reaffirm cooperation on the internet of things developed through previous dialogue.
These partnerships will bring together standards from various companies for communications and technology such as sensors, creating chances for dialogue and experimentation to establish common platforms. They will also promote development of information security technology and more effective ways to bring the internet of things into settings such as factories.
In teaming with Germany, a hardware leader, and the U.S., a software powerhouse, Japan aims to lead and profit from a global technological shift. German and American industry groups have already agreed to share documents such as production schedules and blueprints required to develop common standards, as well as to ensure various systems are mutually compatible. Japan's industry ministry will push for trilateral cooperation of that sort. Private-public efforts at standardization aim to make companies in Japan more competitive, creating a new national industry to replace semiconductors and information technology, areas where Japan fell behind foreign rivals years ago.
Putting networked technology to use in factory equipment lets companies collect massive amounts of operational data, which can be used to anticipate breakdowns or sense when new parts are needed. The technology is already being used in trains to detect rail damage during the course of normal operations, and to add new features to automobiles on the road.