Work style : Tomo

Using synergy between the Rakuten Institute
of Technology and business units to evolve
AR into a necessary part of our daily lives
Tomo
Research Scientist
Reality Domain Group
Rakuten Institute of Technology Worldwide (RIT)

Details of Current Role

As a research scientist, I’m primarily involved in research related to AR technologies on mobile devices. Occasionally, other teams of Rakuten consult with us regarding new technologies and ideas. Our group uses our knowledge and technologies to, for example, develop digital signage. For instance, we developed a photo booth that uses image recognition to match fans with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles player they most resemble. At a Rakuten Ichiba event, we used facial recognition to gain information about customers’ age and sex. We then compared this to sales data from the stores - which also contained information about their customer base - to develop digital signage that would recommend stores to customers. We have a lot of discretion in regards to our research, so we can use a variety of approaches to improve our technologies.

My background

I did postgraduate studies in 3D photography, and after graduating, I worked as an engineer for a video production-related company with a 3D videography studio. The technologies we used there involved 3D imagery utilized in shows, etc., as well as VR systems aimed at industry. I also worked to support the services of a company launched by a friend of mine that involved services using AR and VR to reproduce historical buildings. Additionally, I worked part time for an architectural design office. In my previous career, however, I specialized in development, so I didn’t really have enough mental room to focus on research from a long-term perspective. It was then that I discovered that a friend from my grad school days was working at this institute. I saw how this person was able to freely conduct research and felt that I would likely be able to get plenty of opportunities to try new things and learn a great deal at Rakuten. That was what made me decide to join Rakuten.

Current Environment

I am in an environment that enables specialists gathered from around the world to steadily focus on their research, but we also have a lot of synergy with other divisions. At one of our office-wide morning meetings, I spoke about our digital signage work as a team representative. That led to us receiving business requests from a variety of other divisions. The process from development through to actually launching as part of the business is swift, which makes for a stimulating environment. My perspective regarding technology utilization has also broadened - for example, in the past, a technology that I had thought of as still half-baked was actually found to be usable from a business perspective. More than anything, I want to emphasize that the large amount of discretion we have creates an ideal environment for people who want to work somewhere that allows them to perform research related to information.

Careers at Rakuten

In the near feature, I want to make AR evolve into something like architecture - a required part of our daily lives. My current research examines what a future society based around AR would be like. If the number of people who experience AR through this process increases, it will allow for opportunities to provide rich content through market forces. I, therefore, want to proactively participate in the business utilization of AR. The Rakuten Institute of Technology is also promoting research on a “Creative AI” that is able to create its own unique content. All the research we conduct is so interesting - the research topics include "how much natural and worthwhile content an AI can create," and "how storytelling should be performed through AR" - and we need more time to dive deeper into all of them.

What do you like about Rakuten’s working environment and its systems?
It’s easy to take paid leave and to shift our work style to working from home.
It is really helpful when my kid has a fever.
How big is your current section, and what is the percentage of mid-career hires among them?
Including locations other than Tokyo, around 150 in total.
For Tokyo that’s about 60% of our staff.
What do you do in your time off?
I take my kids to places they want to go.
Whenever I can find time, I also like to go to modern art exhibits.
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