October 24, 2016
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Announces Winners of
the Rakuten Technology Award 2016

Tokyo, October 24, 2016 - Rakuten, Inc. announced the winners of the Rakuten Technology Award 2016 at the Rakuten Technology Conference 2016, held on October 22, 2016.

Rakuten Technology Awards are given in recognition of achievements that contribute to innovative developments in IT and web technology and their adoption by the general public. This year marks the 9th time the awards have been conferred. The winners of the awards are individuals or organizations that have contributed the most to the advancement and development of technology this year, as selected by the Rakuten Technology Award Selection Committee, headed by Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten.

Rakuten will continue contributing to the advancement of technology in support of internet services through a variety of initiatives.

Winners of the Rakuten Technology Award 2016

Gold Prize
: Koichi Takeda
Distinguished Engineer (Engineering)
IBM Research - Tokyo, IBM Japan,

Reason for the Award

The 50 years of research in artificial intelligence (AI) continues in the present day with the “third artificial intelligence boom.” Over the course of his career at IBM Research (research division), Mr. Takeda has worked on natural language processing/text mining research, in addition to research that was the foundation technology behind automatic translation, knowledge discovery, and question answering systems.

In 2011, his research drew worldwide attention when IBM Watson went up against champions of the American quiz show Jeopardy! and defeated them. In addition, an application in the field of medical treatment was started last year, where IBM Watson was taught hospital diagnostic data and papers relating to cancer treatment. As a result, in August of this year, IBM Watson diagnosed and found the correct treatment for a particular type of leukemia that no doctor had been able to recognize, thereby saving the lives of patients and leaving behind a great accomplishment.

These achievements were only possible through Mr. Takeda’s continuing work in natural language processing/automatic translation, and his research is held in high regard for re-invigorating research into artificial intelligence technology.

Silver Prize
: Chef Software, Inc.

Reason for the Award

In organizations in any industry, IT has shifted from providing back office support functions to being a main business driver, and software has become the driving force of today’s digital industry. Introducing large scale automated infrastructure for higher level and speedier IT operations and development has become an important issue in each of these organizations.

Chef is one of the most popular open source software tools for the automation of IT infrastructure. There are more than 70,000 open source developers in the Chef community, and the software they have developed has been downloaded over 40 million times.

Chef easily automates the building and deployment IT systems, providing the configuration to convert the infrastructure for improving the speed and safety of deployment into code.

Chef Software Inc. is deeply committed to the development of open-source technology, and continues to strive to make the management of IT environments simpler and safer for tens of thousands of users around the world.

The company has contributed to the IT industry for more than eight years since its founding, and is recognized for its accomplishments and expectations for further contributions in the future.

Jonathan Rasmusson
Agile Coach
Spotify Technology S.A.

Reason for the Award
Technology alone does not make for agile development. After working as a developer and agile coach at agile development pioneer ThoughtWorks, Inc., he published “The Agile Samurai” in 2010. The book delves into experiences with failure, even among highly-skilled development teams, due to incorrectly defining requirements, along with the “inception deck” approach to asking precisely the requirements of relevant persons from the perspective of a developer. It appeals to a broad audience, not limiting itself to software developers, and its Japanese translation has become one of the best-selling books on agile in Japan.

Mr. Rasmusson is currently teaching engineering at Spotify, a company well known for systematically carrying out agile development. Always a leader as well as an engineer, he is highly regarded for taking the lead in opening new paths.

Ruby Prize
Akihiko Kodama

Reason for the Award

In recent years, the term “singularity” has increasingly been used to describe the point in time when artificial intelligence becomes smarter than human beings, and Mr. Kodama’s book “Will Artificial Intelligence Destroy Humanity?” looks back on the history of the development of artificial intelligence, presenting a clear explanation of what lies in store for the world.

Mr. Kodama writes about the development of von Neumann computers to the dawn of the internet, and discusses in simple terms through story the history of the development of artificial intelligence, while presenting a case as to how humanity should live post singularity.

In an era when the development of artificial intelligence is accelerating, Mr. Kodama is recognized for the opportunity he has provided for us to think about human existence and the nature of society beyond technological innovation.

: Miho Kagei
Product Planning Department Team Leader
Communication Robot Business Promotion Center
Consumer Electronics Company Communication Systems Business Unit
Sharp Corporation

Reason for the Award

It’s a mobile phone and a robot. Many developers have thought about creating a robot you can always carry around like a mobile phone, but Sharp’s RoBoHoN was the first in the world to be sold as a product. It first garnered attention when it was revealed at CEATEC in the fall of 2015, and later went on sale in May 2016.

RoBoHoN is a working robot and a mobile phone running Android OS, as well as a personal assistant that uses AI technology for voice interaction. It is a state-of-the-art digital gadget equipped with both a camera and a projector. It is a product that is the culmination of Sharp’s information appliance technology.

Project leader Ms. Kagei worked together with robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi to bring the first robot mobile phone into the world as a product. Ms. Kagei is commended for her creativity and spirit of taking up challenges, and above all, her ability to implement the project.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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