|NTT, Hitachi, and Matsushita
begin Joint Research
Targeting Next-generation E-commerce using Optic Networks
--Promoting HIKARI Market Creation through HIKARI Commerce Services--
| Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT; Head
Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Jun'ichiro Miyazu), Hitachi, Ltd. (Hitachi;
Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Etsuhiko Shoyama), and Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co., Ltd. (Matsushita; Head Office: Kadoma City, Osaka; President:
Kunio Nakamura) have reached an agreement to begin joint research targeting the
development of "HIKARI Commerce Services" from February 2002. These
next-generation E-commerce services, which are oriented toward network-compatible
home appliances, make use of the ultra high-speed, wide bandwidth characteristics
of optic networks.
These joint research activities are intended to create, at
an early date, a "Commerce-oriented HIKARI service platform"(*1)
(hereafter referred to as the "HIKARI Commerce Platform") that is essential
to providing convenient, comfortable HIKARI Commerce services at a low cost. The
three companies will conduct joint research into core protocols that will enable
interactive connections linking terminals (such as Internet appliances), optic
networks, other networks, and servers via high-speed optic networks, opening the
way for two key "commercial space operation technologies" that take
advantage of the optic environments developed by NTT: a "Visual Shopping
Environment" for regular home users, and a "Visual Showcase Environment"
for business users. The specifications for the protocols developed will be made
available to manufacturers of servers and home appliances; at the same time, function
verifications and other tests will be conducted to confirm the effectiveness of
With regard to the HIKARI Commerce Platform, the three companies
plan to invite a broad range of business partners interested in developing E-commerce
business to participate in cooperative activities targeting "HIKARI Market
||Ongoing Activities at NTT, Hitachi, and Matsushita
| Optic networks and other high-speed, broadband
telecommunication networks are rapidly being established, and we are gradually
entering an era in which it will be possible to distribute huge volumes of information
In the midst of these trends, NTT has been developing information
sharing platforms and commercial space operation technologies that make use of
the special features of optic networks, which offer such merits as high-quality
image communications, high-speed acquisition of information from multiple locations,
and real-time interaction. NTT has also been involved in "Optic Market Creation
Activities" (*2) aimed at spurring new demand, in cooperation
with advanced companies in various fields.
Hitachi has been conducting technological developments in various
related fields, including network server systems that will support optic services
and dramatically improve content distribution performance, as well as technologies
related to service quality assurance.
Matsushita, meanwhile, has been involved in technological development
geared toward opening up new service markets targeting network appliances, taking
advantage of the high-speed characteristics of optic networks.
The three companies have come to a common awareness of the
need to combine their respective activities and create a HIKARI Commerce Platform
that will facilitate a merging of the mutual capabilities of terminals and network
servers, using the high-speed characteristics of optic broadband technologies.
| NTT, Hitachi, and Matsushita believe that in
order to achieve convenient, comfortable, low-cost HIKARI Commerce Services, it
will be essential to develop a HIKARI Commerce Platform with mutual links between
terminals, networks, and servers.
For this reason, the current joint research will focus on development
of protocols for conducting negotiations required to confirm the performance of
terminals that will allow users to enjoy these services and to secure the necessary
resources from within networks. Using these protocols, it will be possible to
allocate many resources in business-oriented terminals to quickly send large volumes
of information, and at the same time to send information in volumes appropriate
for the performance of easy-to-use home terminals, thus ensuring comfortable operations
In terms of the development of these protocols, NTT will contribute
commercial space operation technologies that make use of optic environments; Hitachi
will bring network server control technologies required to assure image service
quality and increase system scale; and Matsushita will bring network appliance
service technologies, with a particular focus on digital TV.
The development of these protocols will make it possible to
organically and efficiently connect business users and regular home users on the
"HIKARI Commerce Platform" using the "Visual Shopping Environment"
and the "Visual Showcase Environment." The protocols will also support
business partners in the creation of new business models worthy of the "era
of optic technologies," and at the same time will enable smooth business
developments for the future.
| In the case of traditional E-commerce applications,
the user faced a number of limitations; for example, even once the target product
was located, it was difficult to quickly find other related products, and there
were limits to the amount of detailed product information that could be accessed.
The usage environment also tended to focus on PCs, which presented a problem with
regard to ease of use.
"Real Commerce" presents a number of dilemmas as well;
for example, there are limits to the amount of real space available for product
displays, and it is difficult to show the products in a variety of combinations
"HIKARI Commerce Services" feature a visual shopping
environment for regular users and a visual showcase environment for business users
to overcome the problems mentioned above.
The visual shopping environment offers a number of functions,
including "window shopping" and "moving catalogs." The Window
Shopping function displays not only the target product, but a variety of other
related products at the same time, so that the user can find attractive products
that they might not even have known existed, even from their own living room.
The "Moving Catalogs" function allows the user to view moving parts
on products, and to interactively confirm more detailed information on product
features. By accessing these services from Internet appliances and other terminals,
anyone can easily enjoy shopping in an environment that is much more familiar
than traditional PCs.
Meanwhile, the visual showcase environment offers tools for
catalog registration, product registration, and display planning. The catalog
registration tool enables the business user to set conditions for catalog use,
and to conduct block registration of product information. The product registration
and display planning tools enable the same users to conduct a number of processes
easily, including product display planning using 3D virtual space and registration
of product attribute information and information on multiple-product combinations.
In this way, product information can be generated with less effort, popular products
and products targeted for sales can be displayed in more prominent positions,
and related products can be displayed nearby.
| The protocol specifications which will represent
the first stage of research results will be published in April of this year.
Once the specifications have been published, the three companies
will invite a broad range of home appliance and server manufacturers to participate
in function verification tests, in order to confirm the effectiveness of the HIKARI
At the same time, with regard to the HIKARI Commerce Platform,
the three companies plan to invite a broad range of business partners interested
in developing E-commerce business to participate in cooperative activities targeting
"HIKARI Market Creation."
|<explanation of Terms>
||Commerce-oriented HIKARI Service Platform
| In the context of NTT's research activities,
the Japanese word "HIKARI," meaning light or optics, takes on a new
meaning, encompassing physical light, the software and hardware technologies essential
to the era of optics, and new services (including optic software services and
ubiquitous services) created through optic technologies and the melding of optic
and wireless technologies.
The "Commerce-oriented HIKARI Service Platform" is
designed to make these services a reality in the field of E-commerce. It provides
a venue for the safe, worry-free information sharing, while vertically and organically
integrating various elements of the E-commerce environment, including information
sharing platforms that ensure comfortable exchanges of video images, Internet
appliances and other devices capable of receiving contents in large quantities,
and technologies that will enable management and operation of a "visual commercial
||HIKARI Market Creation Activities
| NTT announced the start of HIKARI Market Creation
Activities in November 2000. These activities are designed to open up new demand
and create new markets related to optic technologies, by cooperating with partners
in various industries to provide customers around the world with new information
sharing services (HIKARI software services) worthy of the era of optic technologies
taking full advantage of the unique characteristics of optic networks such as
"high-speed, broadband environments," "interactivity," and
"multi-media integration" and by having users provide evaluations of
|WRITTEN BY Corporate Communications Division