NTT Research spotlights quantum computing, cryptography and healthcare at Upgrade 2020

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There is a simple reason why companies will spend a projected $2.4 trillion globally on research and development in 2020: It gets results.

In the technology world, the transistor, hard drive and graphical user interface all sprang from research labs, to name just a few key innovations. Now, Japanese telecommunications giant NTT Ltd. is seeking to pioneer innovation through its own research lab based in the United States.

The lab — NTT Research — opened in 2019 and is focused on developing breakthrough technologies in the areas of quantum and neuro-science computing, cryptographic and information security, and healthcare informatics. NTT spends approximately $3.6 billion annually on research and development, and the company will bring together prominent academics and scientists as part of the virtual Upgrade 2020 – The NTT Research Summit, September 28–October 1. The event will offer presentations on a number of emerging new technologies that could ultimately become reality in the not-too-distant future.

“Emerging technologies have a way of looking futuristic, until they’re not,” said Kazuhiro Gomi, president and chief executive officer of NTT Research, in a July post. “Then, after a certain tipping point, it becomes hard to recall life without them.”

TheCUBE will be broadcasting interviews with NTT executives and key industry leaders during the Upgrade 2020 event. Discussion topics include progress on bleeding-edge technology for neural networks, cryptography and informatics, NTT Research’s role within its parent company, and its plans for future innovation. (* Disclosure below.) 

Use cases for quantum computing

NTT Research’s focus on areas such as quantum computing and cryptography targets two markets with significant upside potential for growth. The size of the global quantum-computing market is projected to triple over the next four years to $283 million, and the encryption software or cryptography market is expected to expand nearly 17% annually from now until 2025.

The field of quantum computing continues to evolve. Quantum computers can manipulate long strings of numerical bits– qubits — concurrently, compared with standard machines that can only process one at a time. Ions, photons or small superconducting circuits provide the quantum power.

Companies and computer engineers believe that mainstream application of quantum computers remains a few years away. However, NTT Research envisions use cases for the technology, particularly in areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“Quantum technologies are a good fit for some types of machine learning, such as image and speech recognition,” said Gomi, writing in a post this month. “Built for nodes analogous to neurons in a biological brain, artificial neural networks ‘learn’ by iteratively processing examples containing known inputs and results.”


In the area of cryptography, NTT Research has shown an interest in both the blockchain and the use of attribution for secure access. In February, NTT Research signed a pair of joint agreements with the University of California, Los Angeles and Georgetown University to investigate theoretical cryptographic elements along with creating a blockchain testbed. The firm also inked a similar agreement with Stanford University in August.

The company’s focus appears to be attribute or role-based encryption. One of NTT’s distinguished scientists is Brent Waters, a cryptography expert at the University of Texas-Austin, who has done extensive work in this field.

“The biggest game-changers are unexpected breakthroughs that surprise everyone,” said Gomi, who was quoted in a story on cryptography earlier this month. “Generally speaking, the advances in cryptography we have seen over the past few years have been incredibly helpful, enabling commerce to grow exponentially and protecting communications between individuals.”

Bio-digital twins

NTT Research’s focus in the healthcare field has involved specific work in a “bio-digital twin” initiative and the use of nanosensor technology. In August, the company announced that it would open an office in Munich, Germany, in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich to support additional research in these areas.

The concept of a digital twin, a dynamic software model of a physical device, has been used to evaluate the performance of wind turbines and Formula 1 racing engines. NTT Research is now seeking to apply the same concept to create “bio-digital twins” using sensors that can warn healthcare providers of potential medical problems.

“Biological digital twins clearly fall into the not-yet-arrived category,” said Gomi in a post from this past July. “As someone overseeing basic research in this area, I know we are far removed from widespread adoption of virtual alter egos or their use by the medical profession. But this bold vision is grounded on real technologies and historical trends.”

The opening of NTT’s research facility may have greater significance in the global telecommunications market. NTT DoCoMo’s major position in the industry could be further enhanced beyond 5G wireless innovations if the U.S. research arm is successful.

The telco’s current focus on cutting-edge technologies, such as optical wireless network, quantum cryptography and real-time digital twins, are potential complementary technologies to 6G or beyond,” said Lian Jye Su, principal analyst at ABI Research. “The work done by NTT Research, provided they become commercially scalable and competitive, will allow NTT DoCoMo to partner with other vendors and introduce their own solutions to the market without having over-reliance on a particular network vendor.”

Livestream of Upgrade 2020 – The NTT Research Summit digital event

Upgrade 2020 is a livestream event with additional interviews to be broadcast on theCUBE. You can register for free here to access the live coverage. You can also watch it on demand on theCUBE’s dedicated page and YouTube channel. (* Disclosure below.)

How to watch theCUBE interviews

We offer you various ways to watch the live coverage of the Upgrade 2020 digital event, including theCUBE’s dedicated website and YouTube channel. You can also get all the coverage from this year’s events on SiliconANGLE.

TheCUBE Insights podcast

SiliconANGLE also has podcasts available of archived interview sessions, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, which you can enjoy while on the go.

Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE during the Upgrade 2020 digital event

Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE during the Upgrade 2020 digital event include Alex Bennett, global senior vice president of intelligent workplace at NTT Ltd.; Kazuhiro Gomi, president and chief executive officer of NTT Research Inc.; Eric Clark, chief digital officer at NTT DATA Services; and Mary Edwards, president of the NTT DATA Services Healthcare Provider practice.

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Upgrade 2020 digital event. NTT Research, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: NTT Research Inc.

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