2020 Tokyo Olympics could help transform tech

Last month's awarding of the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo could be great news for technology.

Pushed by a desire to showcase their expertise to the world, some of Japan's biggest companies are targeting 2020 as the ideal time to deploy new technologies that could revolutionize mobile telecommunications, consumer electronics, automobiles and even the way people watch the Olympics on TV.

Consider what happened last time Japan hosted the Olympics, in 1964. Back then, technology wasn't nearly as pervasive as it is today, but those games were notable as the first to be broadcast overseas via satellite and in color.

Television might get another Olympic push forward in 2020. While TV makers are currently promoting "4K" or "Ultra HD" sets, which offer four times the level of detail of current HDTVs, Japan's national public broadcaster, NHK, is close to beginning trial service of a system with 16 times the level of detail, called "Super Hi-Vision" or "8K." Test transmissions are due to begin in 2016.

For its part, NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest mobile telecommunications network operator, is targeting 2020 for the introduction of a 5G cellular phone service. Designed to work in outdoor, urban areas like Tokyo, the system will boast data rates of between 1Gbps and 10Gbps.

And in the automotive market, Nissan is working on self-driving technology for cars. The vehicles are already on test tracks and were demonstrated at a recent conference. Production versions could be on the road by 2020.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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