CSR / Environment
Business Vision / Medium-Term Management Plan
Business Vision: Changing the World with 8K and AIoT
Sharp’s Vision for the Future
Sharp envisions a society in which people-oriented devices will enrich our lives as new partners. A future where 8K technology will bring about various innovations that will change people’s lives.
Five Basic Strategies
Sharp is endeavoring to make this future a reality by transforming itself in three areas: business, markets, and operations. Specifically, Sharp is working to reinvent its business model, expand its business globally, and strengthen its business infrastructure, while also pursuing fundamental enhancements in its proprietary technologies and human resources. It is with these five basic strategies that Sharp seeks to transform itself into a company that delivers people-oriented IoT and an 8K Ecosystem, using these as vehicles through which to drive business expansion.
Business Promotion System
“ One SHARP ”
Sharp has defined four target business domains: 1) smart homes, 2) smart business solutions, 3) advanced display systems, and 4) IoT electronic devices. Further, Sharp has established two cross-organizational offices—the AIoT Business Strategy Office and the 8K Ecosystem Business Strategy Office. The entire Sharp Group is dedicated to realizing the business vision under its “One Sharp” concept.
8K has 16 times the resolution of full HD. This ultra-high definition offers viewers two unprecedented experiences. One is incredible realism. 8K produces images that are so lifelike, the viewer experiences an astonishingly realistic, immersive sensation. The other is new discoveries. 8K can display intricate details that were up to now impossible to reproduce. This allows 8K to be applied in never-before-seen usages.
The 8K Ecosystem is Sharp’s strategy aimed at sparking innovations in society by creating the seeds of new industries centered on 8K ultra-high-definition technology. Specifically, Sharp is working with various business partners in building a value chain that covers everything from video image creation and processing to transmission and display. The goal is to achieve major innovations in various fields of industry, not only in broadcasting, but also medicine, security, inspection, and infrastructure maintenance.
8K-Driven Applications Already Underway in a Variety of Settings
The expected applications for ultra-high-definition 8K span a host of different areas.
Beginning with the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the list of organizations already undertaking field testing of 8K applications includes NHK (the Japanese public broadcaster), local government bodies, museums, corporations, and a variety of others. In the field of medical care, 8K technology is currently being utilized in endoscopic examinations, surgeries, remote medical diagnoses, and other procedures. Art galleries and museums, as well, are putting 8K technology to good use with their exhibit displays.
What’s more, the ultra-high-definition quality of 8K has proven useful in the area of disaster preparedness. For instance, immediately following the Kumamoto Earthquakes in 2016, aerial images and video taken by NHK were analyzed by experts to identify a previously undetected earthquake fault and fissures.
The applications for 8K are starting to move beyond just broadcasting and into a variety of different fields, and as a result Sharp’s 8K products are making their way into a variety of different contexts and situations.
Development of 70-Inch 8K Monitor for the Medical Care Field: A Rigid Endoscope System Utilizing 8K Technology
Sharp is part of a groundbreaking development in 8K Ecosystem applications within the field of medical care, delivering a 70-inch 8K monitor designed for use with an 8K rigid endoscope system*1 developed by Kairos Co., Ltd. (President: Naoki Ueno; Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; hereafter, “Kairos”).
The 70-inch 8K monitor delivered by Sharp is being used as the display apparatus of an 8K rigid endoscope system, which was developed by Kairos and which began being deployed in medical facilities around November 2017. By combining Kairos’ 8K rigid endoscope, which is the smallest and lightest in the world, with Sharp’s monitor, which features an 8K LCD having 16 times the resolution of full HD, an 8K medical care environment is achieved from input to output.
Thanks to the system’s ultra-high resolution, equivalent to a visual acuity of 4.27*2, it is expected that it can be used in microsurgery and small-incision surgery, as well as enable intraoperative pathological diagnoses based on observations at the cellular level.
The applications for 8K technology extend beyond the medical field into a diverse array of areas, and Sharp is working to realize these with an eye towards facilitating the rapid development of the 8K Ecosystem.
- *1 Rigid endoscope: An endoscope with lenses affixed to both ends of a cylinder. Examples include cystoscopes, thoracoscopes, and laparoscopes.
- *2 HD is considered to be equivalent to a visual acuity of 1.07.
AIoT devices are devices that integrate AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (the Internet of things). And when these AIoT devices serve as people’s new partners to detect changes in people and their environment, think about them, and connect with a variety of services via the Internet to make optimal suggestions, they become what Sharp calls “people-oriented IoT.”
Sharp will extend this technology to various areas, such as smart homes, smart offices, smart factories, and smart cities, and it will aim to realize a smart society where people play the leading role.
Sharp came up with the word AIoT to represent the combination of AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of things).
Every day in their homes, people use a variety of home appliances and IT devices. At Sharp, we’re making these appliances and devices people-oriented and user-friendly by connecting them to the cloud and giving them AI capabilities.
AI can learn people’s routines and preferences and thus provide them with appropriate services and suggest ways to use products. Appliances and devices are thus optimized to the needs of each individual. By having devices “converse” with their owners in a way that serves them and empathizes with them, an emotional bond is created between product and user.
The RoBoHoN mobile robot phone capable of carrying on conversations, the Healsio Deli food kit service for the Healsio superheated steam oven and Healsio Hotcook automatic cooker to provide the tastes of a professional kitchen at the press of a button, the Pet Care Monitor that informs you of your pet’s health...these and many more innovations demonstrate the steady expansion of Sharp’s AIoT.
Field Testing of the RoBoHoN in English Language Classes for Children
A three-month field test of the RoBoHoN mobile robot phone was carried out with young elementary school children at the ALC Kiddy CAT English Classroom in Tokyo between May and August 2018. The RoBoHoN was installed with ALC’s STEP English conversation teaching materials for elementary school children. The children learned English through role-playing making use of the RoBoHoN’s voice recognition and speech production functions.
The RoBoHoN played a useful role in pronunciation and listening practice by offering responses in English when addressed with the proper accent and by asking questions of its own in English. Its ability to interact via hand and body gestures with the children made learning fun and enhanced their motivation to learn English.
As a result of this joint field testing conducted by ALC and Sharp, changes in the level of English proficiency, the amount of independently initiated speech, and other improvements were observed. Sharp aims to expand the number of classrooms utilizing RoBoHoNs, leading eventually to full-scale introduction.
For the future, Sharp is investigating taking the RoBoHoN beyond the classroom to introduce it into home study programs that will effectively support students’ preparation and review efforts through one-on-one learning tailored to each students’ situation.
All of this is part of Sharp’s ongoing efforts to create new value in the field of education through the use of communicative robots.
Sharp’s Vision for the Future: Fiscal 2017–2019 Medium-Term Management Plan
Results for Fiscal 2017
Reinvent the Sharp Business Model
In addition to its established hard infrastructure-centered business model, Sharp is incorporating services and platforms, as well as its entire 8K Ecosystem, into its efforts to transform itself into a company offering novel value to customers.
Concretely, in terms of Sharp’s smart homes business, this involves not only expanding the range of AIoT devices but also the range of new AIoT services, such as COCORO MUSIC, COCORO GAME, COCORO PET, and Healsio Deli, as well as providing other companies with AIoT platforms built via this expansion initiative, to generate new business.
Within the 8K Ecosystem, Sharp is accelerating development of core products and technologies, such as AQUOS 8K and the 8K Professional Camcorder, as well as rolling out 8K technology-driven solutions with various partners in a wide array of fields, including not only broadcasting but also medical care, security, industry, education, art and more.
Further, with the aim of securing the outstanding human resources crucial to accelerating this business model transformation, and of generating new business via technological integration, in June 2018 Sharp made the decision to acquire Toshiba Client Solutions Co., Ltd.
In October 2018, Toshiba Client Solutions became a subsidiary of Sharp.
Expand Business Globally
In fiscal 2017, Sharp undertook overseas business expansion centered on China and the ASEAN region, resulting in its overseas sales ratio exceeding 70%. In particular, Sharp’s television business saw a more than two-fold increase in the number of units sold overseas thanks to expanded sales within China and the ASEAN region, reentry into the European market and other factors, resulting in more than 10 million Sharp brand TVs being sold worldwide. Overseas sales of home appliances, MFPs, signage, solar power generation equipment, and other such products also saw strong growth.
At the same time, Sharp’s device business saw significant growth in camera modules for smartphones, as well as in sales of sensor modules, semiconductors, and other proprietary devices. It also saw steady growth in medium-sized panels for tablets, in-vehicle displays, and other such equipment.
Moving forward, in its product business, Sharp is working to expand its overseas market-focused categories and lineup, as well as customers and sales channels; while for its device business, Sharp is focused on leveraging innovative device creation into new customer acquisition. Through these various initiatives, Sharp aims to expand its business globally and achieve 80% for its overseas sales ratio in the near future.
Strengthen the Sharp Business Infrastructure
Sharp has undertaken fundamental restructuring in line with the principles of fundamentally reviewing business processes, greatly expanding cost awareness, and thoroughly enforcing a merit-based rewards and demerits system for personnel, with the result being strict expenditure controls together with the creation of a highly efficient operations structure. For fiscal 2018 onward, as well, Sharp is undertaking further restructuring to put in place a more robust business infrastructure that can withstand and adapt to any environmental change.
|Restructuring Principles||Main Initiatives|
|(1) Fundamentally review business processes||
|(2) Greatly expand cost awareness||
|(3) Thoroughly enforce a merit-based rewards and demerits system for personnel||