Todai-ji Visitor’s Guide Demonstration Experiment Using
“Clean Beacons” Launched
Human Navigation System Based on Maintenance-Free Beacons with
No External Power Source
TOKYO, Nov 9, 2016 – (JCN Newswire) – On November 9, as part of a NEDO project, SoftBank Group’s Realize Mobile Communications Corp., Hitachi, Ltd., and Cyber Creative Institute Co. Ltd., will launch a demonstration experiment utilizing wireless transmitter “Clean Beacons” and a smartphone app to provide visitor’s guide at Todai-ji in Nara Prefecture.
human navigation infrastructure by utilizing maintenance-free “Clean
Beacons”, which can run on indoor and outdoor lighting without the need
for external power sources. By creating guidelines for use based on the results
of this experiment, NEDO seeks to proceed with the construction of an open
platform based on Clean Beacons and promote its dissemination. In the future,
utilization of this technology is expected not only in the tourism and
hospitality sector, but also in various areas including sales promotion and
Figure 1. Diagram of Clean Beacons and the
associated smartphone app
With the spread of IoT (Internet of Things) that
connects everything via Internet, significant increases in energy consumption
are expected. To deal with this issue, the creation of low-power and
high-efficiency technologies is becoming an important topic. However, many of
the Clean Devices(1) designed to solve this issue have not come into widespread
use due to high costs and their limited intended use. With this in mind, NEDO
is developing use cases aimed at encouraging the widespread use of Clean
Devices through the “Clean Device Promotion Program”.
Recently, as represented by iBeacon, beacons using
wireless Bluetooth Low Energy technology are being used to send triggers to
information terminals such as smartphones, which can then be utilized for a
variety of services including coupon distribution and local information
acquisition. This area is expected to have an expansion of the market due to
application of the technology to address various societal issues, including
guidance to increasing tourists from foreign countries, local revitalization,
and disaster and crime prevention. On the other hand, if beacon devices, which
require a power source, are installed on a large scale and in large quantities,
it will create operational issues such as battery replacement and management.
With this in mind, this project aims to solve
these problems by developing and demonstrating a maintenance-free Clean
Beacon(2) that can operate 24 hours a day with no external power source(3), and
developing an open platform that can manage a large number of beacons.
In this demonstration experiment, tourists will
download an app that corresponds to the services provided by the experiment.
Once they approach Clean Beacons established on the site of Todai-ji, visitor’s
guide and navigation information will be automatically loaded (see Figure 1).
This demonstration experiment is expected to show
the functionality and performance of Clean Beacons and open platforms(4),
identify problems, and improve their reliability for practical use.
2. Overview of Demonstration Experiment
This visitor’s guide is an iOS app and available
in English, Chinese, and Korean for use among tourists from other countries.
Once a smartphone with the installed app enters the visitor’s guide movie
starting point, radio waves emitted from the beacon are received, auto-playing
the visitor’s guide movie in accordance with the location. NEDO expects this to
be a useful tool for introducing foreign tourists to an overview and history of
Todai-ji, as well as educating them on manners for worship.
Nara Prefecture and the City of Nara is
cooperating in this project with app installation instructions that will be
distributed at the Todai-ji temple grounds, the Nara Visitor Center, and the
Nara City General Tourist Information Center.
Figure 2. Visitor’s guide movie starting point
Figure 3. Example of visitor’s guide movie
screen(Top) Explanation of the origins of the Great Buddha Hall at Todai-ji
(Bottom) Explanation of manners and practices at Todai-ji
3. Future Plans
After the completion of the project, by making
public the Clean Beacon installation and use guideline and open platform’s
external interfaces as well as calling for cooperation from existing platforms
and service providers, NEDO plans to propose the use in wider areas and
contribute to establish and expand new services and markets.
Figure 4. Image of the future uses of beacon
(1) Clean Device
These are defined as cutting edge electronic
devices expected to have energy-saving effects through widespread
implementation in society, which practical application is coming soon.
(2) Clean Beacon
This is the name of the beacon developed that does
not rely on an external power source. It makes use of a proprietary “power
management circuit for energy harvesting” technology developed by Hitachi,
Ltd. as part of NEDO’s “Projects to Develop Sensor Systems to Address
Social Issues.” This technology allows the beacon to start operation in a
short period of time even in low light conditions (about 200 lux) such as the
shade of a tree or indoor lighting. Because storing power needed for beacon
operation can be performed at the same time, operations can continue for
certain periods during the night or during a power failure.
(3) No external power source
Here, it is defined in the sense that energy
harvesting operates autonomously without a battery or an external power source.
(4) Open Platform
The device management platform that provides the
versatility to manage a large number of beacons install in a wide range. Thus,
installed beacons are interoperable for multiple service operators, and service
providers can provide services in a short period of time with less