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Susumu Matsuda, Director, Santoku Corporation

Susumu Matsuda: Enhancing the Safety Measures with Virtual Reality

When the word Virtual Reality (VR) comes to mind, there are several mind-blowing things that one starts to wonder about. However, a slim thought of safety and prevention led Susumu Matsuda to utilize VR to develop a technology that is beneficial for safety measures in disasters. He serves as the Director of Santoku Corporation and leads the IT division with his immense knowledge and technological expertise.
We at Insights Success came across Susumu Matsuda in our endeavor to find “The 10 Best Performing Technology Leaders of 2021.” We talked with him to better understand how his innovation has helped people better their knowledge about various disasters.
Let us dive right in!
The Initiation of VR at Santoku
Susumu expresses that in 2001, Santoku Corporation started a development service using VR to develop a training simulator to improve skills. The functions required for each simulator differed and needed time to develop at an increased cost. The main obstacle Susumu faced was the cost-effective implementation and building training scenarios during operation for introducing VR. He came up with a mechanism to reduce the design period and cost to less than half compared to the conventional method, which enhanced the training effect and gave a more realistic experience to focus on training. The training helped develop a tactile sensation felt by the user, implying robot technology, which enhanced the reality in the virtual space and the training effect of the simulation.
A Safe Approach
Santoku Corporation’s mission is to develop methods to enhance safety and spread the safety ideas born from them to society and contribute to society. In 2012, the company changed the way of thinking about its working and switched the promotion policy from using VR technology to providing safety methods. The company considered educating people’s safety step by step according to the process for human experience.
The company ran a skill simulation program that lets the body learn the skills, makes people aware of safety, and conducts studies to protect themselves from disasters. To raise safety awareness, it implemented a decision-making program that encourages people to become aware of it. By observing the disaster situation to make a judgment based on the change in the situation and act based on the judgment, it implemented a resilience improvement program that promotes disaster response.
The purpose of this education was to acquire the mental strength to respond to disasters and the ability to recover after a disaster through disaster response education and respond appropriately to disasters and increase the survival rate of people. To realize these, Santoku Corporation devised the basic concept of RiMM and developed safety methods while directly facing safety.
Overcoming Challenges while Creating a Wide Impact
Through the development of safety methods, Susumu knew that the awareness of safety education participants was low, and the educational effect didn’t increase as expected. He understood that instructors who carried out safety education have strong desires for students and wished to increase sensitivity through the negative experience of disasters. He repeated the trial and error in discovering safety methods.
To increase sensitivities through activities, Susumu learned that the sensations felt by the body induce negative emotions and affect sensitivities. He developed a unit that reproduces the sense of touch using the technology cultivated in robot research and development. He also created a VR experience system that links tactile sensation, pain sensation, and skin sensation combined with visual and auditory sensations, which created an evolved VR disaster experience system. In 2016, Santoku Corporation launched RiMM, the first-ever product in VR for safety education. Currently, it has more than five hundred units in operation for thirty-three occupations.
Santoku Corporation has conducted safety requirements surveys at various customers’ sites through activities to discover safety methods. It made a prototype by repeating trial and error based on the idea. To provide its customers with improved products and see how they work, it made improvements according to the customer’s request and re-delivered the product. It repeated this cycle many times until the effect was confirmed.
The company discovered this development method over 20 years and named it Cyclone. To speed up the development of cyclones, it actively incorporates existing technologies into the system. It challenges unknown recent technologies and realizes new functions. In this way, Cyclone’s creative philosophy supports the values and work culture of Santoku Corporation.
Keeping Up with Technology
Susumu says, “To speed up development, it is necessary to take an attitude of quickly adopting latest technology without fear of failure.” He adds that it is impossible to incorporate newer technologies into a product and use it by only understanding the logic.
A trial-and-error process is required to understand the usage characteristics, and only after fully understanding the characteristics of the latest technology can it be applied. Santoku Corporation has repeated this process for 20 years of involvement with research institutes. Recent technologies can only be used effectively through a challenge and trial and error process, and the cyclone philosophy works well in such cases, expresses Susumu.
Leading Changes for Better Tomorrow
Susumu states that the IT industry is changing at a faster pace. In the internet industry, anyone can get new technical information immediately. One can pick up the technology and use it easily. However, just using the latest technology isn’t useful. If one doesn’t add expertise to the latest technology, one will not lose the competition and move forward.
Only when the latest technology and new purposes are fused will new products be born. It is established as a solution by focusing on fields that IT has not serviced so far and fusing recent technologies and purposes with fresh eyes. Academic fusion will undoubtedly drive IT to change.
Good Will for Humankind
Susumu questions: Isn’t everyone interested in realizing a function that allows everyone to touch human emotions directly? Its function is a means of directly influencing emotions and touching the heart. If the mind changes and emotions change through the experience of the five senses, and emotions are transmitted without using words, it will bring about fabulous changes in society. That means the biological mechanism of human beings and IT technology are fused and realized. Santoku Corporation has developed products that directly touch people’s hearts through negative emotions, and we will continue to improve and evolve them.
“The significance of our existence is to contribute to society by creating methods and safety ideas that enhance the safety of human society. We will continue to walk with the earth to respond to disasters,” asserts Susumu. Santoku Corporation’s mission is to provide comprehensive safety methods to protect people living in the global environment. Safety is a common theme for all humankind and transcends language and cultural and customary barriers. Therefore, safety technology is used all over the world regardless of race.
Today’s human society is concentrated in one field, and research and development pursuing specialization are active. Santoku Corporation proved that it could increase the value of its products by combining and utilizing the expertise of multiple fields from different perspectives. It is necessary to comprehensively understand and elucidate various academic fields related to people pursuing services for people. The company tries to integrate engineering and medical care to reproduce the approaches of human beings, and it will change IT.
Plans for the Future
Santoku Corporation will continue to provide safe and efficient information in the future through the development of safety systems. It will elucidate the methods that affect human biological emotions. Through personalized communication, it will recognize an efficient and direct emotional mechanism. It keeps people’s peace of mind and appropriately controls negative sensations that directly affect the mind according to the biological mechanism of people.
Santoku Corporation is developing safety technology that appropriately conveys emotions and prevents mental disability. To achieve this, it will discover the mechanism of touching emotions through the sensory organs and the brain from a medical point of view.
Susumu states that this project needs to comprehensively integrate various knowledge such as medicine, biology, ethics, cognition, psychology, nerves, sensibilities, robotics, communication and requires collaborators with specialized knowledge. Its applications are in a wide range of fields as a mechanism to care for people’s emotions and maintain human safety, as better communication according to human characteristics and abilities, as efficient education.