This is a move away from Canon Europe's traditional business model for the R&D business unit. Previously the main focus for European research centres was contribution to Canon's overall technology development, with all competitive technologies being transferred to Canon Inc.
In line with this new business mission, the Research and Development (R&D) centres, based in the United Kingdom and France, have been chartered to develop and create original products that can be developed here and sold in both Europe and the rest of the world. This has already happened, with graphic software developed in the United Kingdom being recently adopted as middleware for some of the latest video game machines.
The result of the new business focus is that Canon Europe directly benefits from the technologies originating from its research centres and is able to financially contribute towards Canon's overall business in Europe. Effectively, this makes Europe's technical innovators part of the overall Canon Europe success story.
Canon's Global Commitment to Research and Development
Canon demonstrates tremendous commitment worldwide to developing new products and solutions for the global information technology market-place. Financially, this is exemplified by the fact that Canon Inc. spent ¥218.6billion (US$1,656million or €1,868million) on R&D in the year ending December 31, 2001, representing some 7.5% of consolidated sales.
Canon's R&D teams around the world relentlessly pursue areas of expertise, while simultaneously collaborating and sharing achievement details for use in future product development. Global interchange of ideas and information is actively promoted among Canon's R&D professionals via the Canon global information network.
Canon's success rate in registering patents shows that it is well ranked among the world's leading technical innovators. In the year 2000, Canon registered a total of 1897 patents in the US. In terms of overall volume of patents, it places Canon in the number three position compared to IBM in number one and NEC in number two.
Across the globe, Canon has nine R&D facilities located in the United Kingdom, France, United States, Australia, India, Philippines and the People's Republic of China. Canon also conducts collaborative R&D projects with research institutions and universities, trains engineers on a global scale and exchanges personnel between facilities.
Development in Europe
Canon Research Centre Europe Ltd. (CRE) is pursuing R&D activities for technologies related to humandevice, humanmedia and humanhuman interaction. RenderWare, developed by CRE and commercialised by Criterion Software Ltd., is the world's first software-only, high-speed, high-quality 3-dimensional (3D) rendering solution for PC platforms. Around the world, 3D games software production and multimedia-related companies have given RenderWare extremely good reviews.
Canon Research Europe Ltd., based in the United Kingdom, is involved in software localisation, whilst Canon Research Centre France S.A. specialises in development related to wireless communications and multimedia network infrastructure technologies.
Development in the Americas
Canon Information Systems, Inc. develops software and services targeting home and office users. Canon Business Machines, Inc. has a development and production structure designed to rapidly respond to market trends. In San Jose, the heart of the Silicon Valley, Canon R&D Center Americas, Inc. (CRA) researches medical, semiconductor and colour related technologies, as well as materials and devices.
Development in Australia
Canon Information Systems Research Australia Pty. Ltd. (CISRA) develops image-processing software libraries that provide colour-printing solutions, high quality graphics and photos. The company is contributing to the Canon Group through technologies based on the OpenPage software library, which are used in the colour rendering units of Canons business machines. Engineers here are also developing colour rendering technologies for next generation, high-speed image output equipment.
Development in Asia
Canon is developing image-processing and other software in India, as well as electronic equipment and software in the Philippines. In the People's Republic of China, it is pursuing software and technologies for Chinese-language processing in Beijing. Canon's goal is to apply the many successes of its global R&D activities in Canon products around the world. Its Indian R&D base concentrates on software development, while the Chinese R&D base pursues software and Chinese language-processing development.
Examples of Specific Research & Development
Activities in Progress
Canon Over IP
Canon develops technologies for information technology solutions in the 21st century under the concept banner of Canon Over IP (Internet Protocol). In the future, digital information and digital products not compatible with IP will be unable to achieve their full potential.
As a pioneer of the Internet age, Canon is digitising and networking its product lines, after which the company will expand efforts to include services and solutions to link these products together.
New concept in Digital Photography - Micro Bubble Jet Camera
Canon is applying its energy-saving, compact-print Bubble Jet printing technologies, together with its camera expertise and a wealth of creativity to study an outputting process that would fit in the palm of the user's hand. The idea is to put only the printer engine inside of a digital camera. Credit card-sized sheets of paper and Bubble Jet inks would be in a separate unit called an Ink Paper Pack.
The Micro Bubble Jet Camera could well turn into a reality based on developing the ability to separate the main ink tank and the print head. This will ensure that only the appropriate amount of ink for a single photograph is sent to the printer at any given time.
To take advantage of diverse new business opportunities that this camera would create, Canon is reinforcing its in-house development and production functions for key components and devices. This move will allow Canon to bring new business fields to the market before the competition.
Extra Dimension in Displays
Another innovative imaging device being developed by Canon is the Paper-Like Display, which provides the advantages of both paper media and displays. Developed based on electrophoretic phenomena, this display uses toner sealed between two sheets of plastic film and electrostatic absorption/ repulsion. The resulting display is as thin and flexible as a sheet of paper, yet provides high-quality images. A variety of potential applications exist for this groundbreaking technology.
Investment to Increase ELTRAN SOI Wafer Production Capacity
Canon invested approximately ¥2 billion (US$15.1million or €17.1million) in 2000 to expand its production of ELTRAN silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers. The company has achieved a five-fold increase in wafer production - equivalent to 10,000 wafers per month - at its facility in Hiratsuka, Japan. ELTRAN SOI wafers feature a unique, three-layer construction, which makes it possible to produce semiconductors that consume less power than conventional silicon wafers. Among the original, high-level production technologies for these wafers is water-jet splitting, which allows Canon to re-use the seed wafer component, thereby significantly lowering costs.
Next Generation Large Flat-Panel Displays
In the multimedia age, demand is strong for large-screen displays that do not require the space of a conventional television set or PC monitor. Canon has been developing a technology known as the SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitterDisplay). In 1999, Canon started a collaborative agreement with Toshiba Corporation to develop a practical SED. Combining Canons prowess in SED technologies with Toshiba's strong position in the market for displays, the two companies are working together to commercialise next generation large-screen displays.
Highly Sensitive, Large-Area CMOS Sensor
The highly sensitive, large-area CMOS sensor is compact and features extremely low power consumption, making it the ideal device for products such as cameras, scanners and facsimile machines. In 2000, the CMOS sensor was adopted in the EOS D30 digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, in which it makes possible ultra-high image quality and 3.25 million-pixel performance. Canon is planning to expand the use of this sensor in other imaging products.
(Solely for the convenience of the reader, the amounts mentioned here are translated at the rate of JPY132 = US$1 and JPY117=€1Euro, the approximate exchange rate on the Tokyo Foreign Exchange on January 31, 2002).