Fujitsu launches artificial intelligence offshoot at Munich Forum
Image credit: E&T
Fujitsu has set up a new artificial intelligence company to build on its recent AI projects, which range from detecting fetal heart problems to bank security.
The announcement was one of several at the Fujitsu Forum in Munich to feature AI developments. Fujitsu Intelligence Technology brings together the company’s AI work in Japan and around the world to run it from Vancouver, Canada. The area has many research institutions such as the University of Toronto engaged in AI and quantum computing research, as well as startup technology companies. The government there is pushing the country towards AI. “In Vancouver and across British Columbia, Fujitsu will have the opportunity to collaborate with our state-of-the-art universities and research facilities to discover new ways that artificial intelligence can help solve local and global challenges,” said John Horgan, Premier of the Province of British Columbia. “Before long, I anticipate that we will hear of exciting advancements and new technologies emerging from Fujitsu’s Vancouver facility.”
Fujitsu is involved in a research project led by scientists at The Riken Center in Japan to automatically detect abnormalities in fetal hearts using AI. This will help doctors to detect severe congenital heart abnormalities that need urgent treatment. Today, these account for about one in five newborn deaths but today’s ultrasound imaging detection can miss these conditions. Machine learning can help diagnostic systems to detect diseases faster and better than humans, but their rarity makes it difficult to find the right datasets. The Riken project has developed technology that can use smaller datasets, teaching AI using images of normal and abnormal hearts.
Fujitsu is also contributing AI technology to FinSec, a new collaborative European Union Horizon 2020 project, to analyse data to predict and spot security incidents both online and offline. Its imaging AI will analyse CCTV to spot unusual behaviour around sensitive areas such as banks. The AI algorithm will be used in ATMs by one of the project partners and could be used in other CCTV surveillance such as police and border patrols.
An AI project won this year’s Fujitsu Select Innovation Award at Fujitsu Forum. D.FI’s system, developed with the Fujitsu AI team in Paris-Saclay, automates the handling of thousands of tickets each month. It uses natural language processing to understand the context of tickets and ‘triage’ them. Tickets are qualified to 80 per cent accuracy, errors reduced and D.FI is also able to anticipate and prevent incidents or outages. It is now replicating the process to roll it out to customers.
Other Fujitsu AI projects include using it to brew better sake, treat diabetes during pregnancy, improve agriculture and insurance processing.
The announcement of the new AI company, at the Fujitsu Forum in Munich, Germany, is the latest in a corporate-wide restructure aimed at moving to a service-oriented business model and raising profit margins to 10 per cent. It is increasing its specialised sales force and employing more engineers worldwide but it is also taking cost-cutting measures.
“This involves a global reorganisation of our products business,” said Fujitsu president Tatsuya Tanaka. “Until now development and manufacturing have been split between our core company in Japan and subsidiary in Germany but we will now be consolidating these in Japan with the aim of speeding up decision making.” This means Fujitsu will close its European manufacturing plant in Germany as customers are no longer willing to pay a premium to support locally made products where they are commodity products. “Augsberg will close,” confirmed Tanaka.
“It was a very difficult decision here in Europe to propose the closure of the Augsberg facility. We have some brilliant people in that business,” explained Fujitsu Europe head Duncan Tait (pictured top). “We’ve had to make some difficult decisions in the area of the cost base and the decision about manufacturing in this country is one of them.”
Dr Joseph Rieger, European chief technology officer, said China is way ahead of the rest of the world in investing in both AI and quantum computing, but Germany is expected to publish its own AI strategy in December. He called on countries to follow the example of the Finland government in setting a target for 1 per cent of its population to complete a basic online course in AI.
At the Forum, Fujitsu Laboratories also launched the AI Solver to speed up physics-based simulations. It can solve processes that usually take several hours in just milliseconds. The company says AI Solver will reduce prototype and product failures in computer-aided engineering (CAE).
“While the advent of HPC and cloud computing has transformed the simulation process by reducing the associated hardware and software costs, we have not yet seen this translated into a significant reduction in the time taken to perform individual simulations,” said Dr Adel Rouz, CEO of Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe. “While in the short-term our technology targets traditional users of CAE such as designers, the potential applications go well beyond product design and include increasing the efficiency of smart devices, such as robots, when guided by real-time simulations rather than heuristics.”