ITOCHU Announces Business Alliance with NTT Sonority

Launch of Domestic Acoustic-Related Business Utilizing Advanced Technologies, Such as Acoustic Technology that Traps Sounds in Zone around Ears, and Global Roll-Out

November 9, 2022

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it has concluded a business alliance with NTT sonority, Inc. (headquartered in Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Hiroshi Sakai, Managing Director and CEO; hereinafter “NTT sonority”), a subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Akira Shimada, President & CEO; hereinafter “NTT”), for the domestic launch and global roll-out of an acoustic-related business utilizing advanced technologies such as an acoustic technology that traps sound in an open zone around the user’s ear. As the first phase, ITOCHU began supporting the domestic and global roll-out of nwm, the NTT Group’s first consumer acoustic brand utilizing this technology.

People’s lifestyles have significantly changed in Japan and abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been an increase in teleworking, web conferencing and the number of streaming service and social media users. We have more opportunities to listen to online meetings and music and other audio content, and to watch videos, in all kinds of places in our everyday lives. The wireless earphone market has also been growing rapidly, with the global market’s size expected to expand an average of 36.1% each year of the forecast period from 2022 to 2030, reaching 32.24 billion USD by 2030.*1 However, a number of social issues have emerged, such as discomfort, ear fatigue, the risk of hearing impairment caused by the prolonged wear of earphones and difficulty in sensing surrounding situations and dangers. At the same time, experiences using new acoustic technologies are required.

Established in September 2021, NTT sonority is an acoustic-related company that uses advanced, proprietary NTT technologies including Personalized Sound Zone (PSZ) technology*2 that creates an ultimate private acoustic space where only the sounds you want to hear can be heard and the sounds that you do not want to hear or do not want other people to hear cannot be heard.
The company has launched the acoustic brand, nwm to co-create new acoustic experiences, working styles and lifestyles by understanding the needs of users and companies. The Personal Ear Speakers*3 to be released as the first phase of the project are the first earphones incorporating the PSZ technology. These open-ear earphones that do not cover the ears, cause no stress from prolonged wear and enable users to listen to surrounding noises while trapping the sound they generate only in the zones around the ears, reducing anxiety over sound leakage.

Through this business alliance, ITOCHU will support the domestic and global roll-out of the nwm brand leveraging NTT sonority’s excellent acoustic technology and utilizing the domestic and international networks of ITOCHU Corporation and ITOCHU Group. In addition, ITOCHU will promote the introduction and roll-out of NTT sonority’s acoustic technologies in corporate fields for a variety of situations including utilization in aircraft, automobiles and office devices.

One of the basic policies of ITOCHU’s medium-term management plan is realizing business transformation by shifting to a market-oriented perspective, and this effort is in line with this policy. Through the roll-out of acoustic technology-based products in collaboration with NTT sonority, ITOCHU will expand the services it provides from the customer’s perspective.

  • *1 Source:Market Research Future (MRFR), “Wireless Earphone Market Analysis by Components, By Technology (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC), By Point of Sale, By Applications (Music & Entertainment, Sports & Fitness, Gaming & Virtual Reality) - Forecast 2027”
  • *2 What is the Personalized Sound Zone (PSZ) technology?
    It is a technology developed by NTT Computer and Data Science Laboratories aiming for the creation of an ultimate private acoustic space (personalized sound zone) where only the sounds you want to hear can be heard and the sounds that you do not want to hear and the sounds you do not want others to hear cannot be heard.
    The PSZ technology, suitable for the “nwm” open-ear earphones, was focused on the effect that, when normal phase and reverse phase sound waves are cancelled against each other, both the sound waves are canceled out and can no longer be heard. The special hardware design allows propagating the sounds only within a specific area. As it creates a small capsule-like zone around the user’s ears, sound leakage can be minimized without covering up the ears.

  • *3 The wired nwm MWE001 incorporating the PSZ technology, and nwm MBE001, a wireless model incorporating the PSZ technology
    Sonority’s acoustic design technology (patent pending), cumulative hardware improvement efforts, and the PSZ technology made it possible to achieve a sound quality that can compete in the market.         
    They are high-quality acoustic devices that enable people to talk with others and listen to music with a minimum of sound leakage.

nwm MWE001

nwm MBE001

Company Overview

Company name NTT sonority, Inc.
Establishment September 1, 2021
Headquarters Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Representative Hiroshi Sakai