ITOCHU Announces Increase of Equity Stake in inQs Furthering Commitment to Promote the IoT Revolution in the Industrial Sector
World’s First Successful Mass Production of Solutions Utilizing Photovoltaic Elements Capable of Generating Electricity Under Extremely Low Illumination
November 9, 2018
ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it had reached an agreement with inQs Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Tomoko Ito, President & CEO; hereinafter “inQs”), a business venture engaged in the development of patented solutions involving solar cells (photovoltaic elements) capable of producing electricity in extremely low illumination conditions. Itochu has increased its equity stake in inQs to 19%, and together with inQs has established a new business model in a bid to promote the shift towards a IoT centered industrial sector.
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are at the heart of the significant change in manufacturing that has been dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These technologies help to transform a wide variety of information from the operation of machinery in factories, transportation, weather and even personal health conditions into digital data that can be analyzed and utilized to create new additional value. It is estimated that the number of IoT devices for these purposes will increase sharply to more than 30 billion by 2020. However, a significant barrier to widespread adoption has been the inability to efficiently power devices capable of transmitting information. Many IoT devices require installation in locations with little or no sunlight conditions, such as inside factories, warehouses, and tunnels. Today these devices rely on either expensive wiring that amounts to 70%-80% of initial costs, or batteries that need frequent replacement. IoT requires constant data communication to work efficiently. inQs is able to generate power to transmit information from a variety of sensors, including motion, vibration, temperature and humidity.
inQs is the first company in the world to develop a photovoltaic element capable of operating as an independent power source in under 200 lux conditions. Mass production of the product has started recently, and the company has plans to produce up to 1 million pieces per month. This will pave the way for the continuous internet connectivity of IoT devices on various industrial machines in factories and speed up the IoT shift in the industrial area. inQs has further developed a special explosion-proof module that is designed to operate in hazardous environments, such as in plants and refineries. Additionally, inQs has developed a beacon that transmits positional information and has obtained certification for the technology. In the United States, it will soon commence a demonstration trial of the product together with an organization that promotes cutting-edge technologies in conjunction with leading local companies.
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On the occasion of this investment, ITOCHU will push ahead with assisting inQs in the commercialization of the company’s fundamental technologies in Japan and overseas. Through utilizing its experience and network of customers cultivated through the sales of industrial machinery and factory equipment in Japan, the United States, Europe, China and Asia, ITOCHU can develop new technologies to support inQs as it aims to open new horizons for IoT heading towards 2020. inQs is “Powering the IoT Revolution”.