When it comes to cutting-edge imaging
technologies such as the ultra wide-angle camera, telephoto camera, and TOF
camera, what do these have in common?
They are the “molecules” or building
blocks that make up a smartphone’s imaging module, and also form the hardware
foundation for good imaging performance. To vivo, these imaging components
mean much more: they also underpin vivo’s global R&D strategy.
Recently, vivo presented its Tokyo R&D
center, with the Japanese expert team and interesting imaging technology
R&D stories. Mr. Masazumi, Chief Expert of vivo Tokyo R&D center, unveiled
more on this.
Introducing vivo Tokyo R&D Center
In 2019, the vivo Tokyo R&D center was
established in Shimbashi, Tokyo, and it set its sights on the pre-research
and development of technologies that can be applied two years later.
Why does the center conduct pre-research two
years in advance? Why was Tokyo chosen as the location for the research
center? To answer these questions, we trace back to 2017 when the center was
not yet established.
That year, the mobile phone market was
fast-growing, with intense competition between older and newer brands.
When competition shifted from marketing to core
technologies, “globalization”, a term frequently used by the trade
and manufacturing sector, began to appear in the R&D sector. It was in
that exact year that vivo decided to take a step ahead by announcing the
launch of its global R&D strategy.
The vision behind the strategy is to make full
use of valuable resources in different parts of the world to conduct different
R&D work. The establishment of the vivo Tokyo R&D center was also
based on this strategy.
“Japan has more than 100 years of history in
mobile imaging development and has undergone huge transitions from film to
digital imaging (including lenses, sensors, and motors).” Mr. Masazumi
believes that mobile camera technology can only be developed on the
foundation of a robust and mature imaging industry, which is precisely the
biggest advantage of Tokyo as the location of the Tokyo R&D center.
As the Tokyo R&D center grows its focus has
gradually expanded from mobile phone imaging to more niche areas such as car
cameras, sports cameras, and industrial cameras.
These technologies may have not fully emerged in other
markets. But with the launch of the vivo signature gimbal camera and the
completion of vivo’s global manufacturing bases, the successful application
of the above technologies is worth looking forward to.
vivo’s Blueprint for The Future with Consumer
Needs at Its Core
In vivo’s corporate culture, being user-oriented
remains the main principle guiding vivo’s R&D work. Whether it is the
gimbal camera, the V1 imaging chip, these are all based on vivo’s insights
and overall review of consumer needs.
On communicating with HQ on latest data and
technology trends, Mr. Masazumi said, “Although we rely on online meetings
most of the time now, we actually communicate more and the exchange of
information is smoother than ever.”. The planning/product team in HQ analyzes
future research trends of smartphone imaging based on user feedback. This
information is then shared with the Tokyo R&D team.
In this process, Mr. Masazumi realized that the
demands globally are changing. “Global consumers have higher expectations of
HD imaging but there is less and less space left for the lens module within
the phone itself.”
Given this contradiction, Mr. Masazumi believes
that one major direction of future imaging hardware development is to make it
“miniaturized and integrated”. He explained: “camera lenses now are generally
assembled. In future, they might all be integrated into one piece, with
sensors that are more sensitive and faster.”
The Setting of Tokyo R&D center is the
epitome of vivo’s global R&D strategy. In 2017, vivo proposed that its
technological research would no longer focus on single aspects but would
focus on innovation of the smartphone as a whole.
To achieve this goal, vivo has 10 R&D centers
in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Nanjing, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Taipei,
San Diego and Tokyo, which are devoted to the development of cutting-edge
consumer electronics technologies and services, including 5G, artificial
intelligence, industrial design, imaging system and other up-and-coming