In 2002, the Japanese government's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) launched the 21st Century Center of Excellence Program, which aims at turning leading Japanese universities into world class research centers. The program, which is run by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), has accepted proposals and distributed a large number of grants to universities throughout Japan, with most of these going to famous national universities, plus several famous private universities. The University of Tokyo, where TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura is among the faculty, was among the recipients of these grants, and it was to describe what the University of Tokyo would be doing with the grant money that Prof. Ken Sakamura hosted a special symposium on the afternoon of October 27 at the University of Tokyo's Yasuda Auditorium under the title of "21st Century COE: Formation of the Next Generation Ubiquitous Information Society Infrastructure."
In a keynote speech, Prof. Sakamura, who is the leader of the 21st Century COE project at the University of Tokyo, described the goals and outlined the parts of the program, which is scheduled to reach its conclusion in five years. The main goal of the program is to turn the university into a "knowledge hub for society" via a new organization established inside the university. The University of Tokyo is actually a good place to undertake such a project because, as the oldest university in Japan, it has been collecting information for 127 years, and thus has a large number of collections that it can make available to the public. It is also the home of the TRON Project, which has given birth to the T-Engine and Ubiquitous ID projects, plus it's the place where the GT Font, an unabridged kanji character set and font, was drawn up and made public. The seeds of this project actually go back to university's Digital Museum project that Prof. Sakamura launched, plus the university's 120th anniversary celebration in 1997, when high-tech was brought in to open up knowledge to the public.
This time around, Prof. Sakamura is eager to introduce uIDs all over the campus to turn into into a kind of large, open air digital museum. While this may sound far fetched, it has already been done in the tourist town of Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture in the West of Japan, where uIDs have been placed placed throughout the historic town. More recently, new experiments are being carried out in the port city of Kobe using more refined TRON-based technologies, where even road sensors are being used. And Prof. Sakamura noted that uIDs are even being used in his university to track toner cartridges used in photocopying to aid in their recycling. However, ubiquitous information technology research is just one of the projects within the 21st Century COE project at the University of Tokyo--Project B, to be exact. The other projects are a ubiquitous information contents formation project (Project A), and a ubiquitous information society international research project (Project C), the details of which were described by other researchers.
Among the subprojects that be undertaken as part of the 21st Century COE project at the University of Tokyo are: one to improve digital archives by better integrating text, video, sound, and two- and three-dimensional data; a project to create a new ubiquitous encyclopedia that aims to improve on current encyclopedias by introducing new content types and presenting them with a conversational-type interface; a project to develop new organization principles for prose by investigating the conditions underlying the establishment of things, affairs, words, and information; and a project that will delve into network security, traceability, and trusted third party issues while exploring what relationship there should be between the government and the public in these areas. Also, discussed at the symposium were the problems of introducing RFID tags on a wide scale into human society. In particular, a doctor from the University of Tokyo hospital talked about applying ubiquitous technologies in a hospital environment, where they face different conditions of use from elsewhere in society.
The T-Engine Forum announced on October 7 that it had concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Korean System Programmer Association to establish a "Korea T-Engine Center." According to the memorandum of understanding, the Korea T-Engine Center will conduct activities inside Korea to educate Korean programmers and systems engineers about the T-Engine family of open development platforms and related technologies. In particular, Korea T-Engine Center will translate T-Engine-related documentation and create a Korean language Web site to further these activities. It will also carry out educational activities, such as holding seminars and workshops concerning T-Engine and T-Kernel, the standard real-time operating system kernel that runs on top of T-Engine.
There was an interesting news tidbit on page 68 of Vol. 89 of TRONWARE, which went on sale on October 5. TRONWARE reported that in an interview with PalmSource Chief Product Officer Larry Slotnik that appeared in the spring issue of Mobile Press, the following exchange (translated from the Japanese) took place.
|Interviewer||I have heard that Palm OS internally is based on µ-ITRON. Compatibility with Japanese cell-phones also seems to be good; are you talking along those lines with Japanese carriers or makers? Or, the possibility for it to be adopted in Japanese cell-phones?|
|Larry Slotnik||As you pointed out, it is coding based on µITRON. Accordingly, I think that porting also to Japanese cell-phones is not difficult.|
If it is true that Palm OS is based on µITRON, then the company should waste no time in porting its operating system to the T-Engine platform, where it will be able to take advantage of eTRON security technology, TRON Code multilingual processing, and ucode and uIDs. These open technologies will become the backbone on which Japan's ubiquitous computing networks will be developed.
The TRON Symposium Steering Committee has begun releasing information on its Web site about exhibitors and the theater schedule for TRON SHOW 2005, which will be held from December 7 through 9 at Tokyo International Forum. Portions of the theater schedule are also available for viewing on the English languages pages of the site. Please note that anyone who wishes to attend any of the theater sessions will have to register in advance, as seating is limited. Those only wishing to enter the exhibits area will not have to register in advance, but depending on the day and time you wish to enter, the exhibits area may be crowded. Last year's show drew 8,425 visitors, including the prime minister of Japan and other dignitaries, with the largest daily attendance being recorded on the first day.