—So what do you think is an essential quality for an engineer?I think engineers have to aord themselves a certain level of self-respect to be successful. In other words, good engineers tend to hate losing. [laughs] For example, on coming across a better product from another company, an engineer has to experience chagrin and frustration and be able to channel that frustration into making an even better product. I believe maintaining this sense of pride and competitiveness is essential to developing quality products. Fundamentally, I want my engineers to take pride in knowing everything that matters when addressing a customer or a product. If they come across something they don’t know, I want them to start working right away to gain the knowledge and experience they need to become better. I think you need to have a fairly competitive spirit, as that’s what drives engineers to continue creating products that can be of benet to society and help people.Listening to the Voices of Customers Generates Ideas That Support Society—Does the TDC have any specic approach you consider unique?e center promotes what we call a 20% activity policy. at means devoting one day of the ve-day work week to independent research, outside of the engineer’s assigned responsibilities, to pursue interests outside current duties. One goal of this policy is to expand the horizons of interest and to encourage the dreaming and imaginative leaps needed to consider needs, technologies, and products that don’t exist today. Another goal is to give engineers time to refresh. No judgment is made on what’s done in the 20% activities. We want our engineers to feel free, unconstrained, and to expand their potential. e time required to take fresh perspec-tives is essential for growth.—Can you talk about some of the current research at the TDC and new product development plans that will pave the way for the future?I can’t go into the details as most of that information is condential, but I can give a few examples. In the medical eld, we’re pursuing research and development on a system to restore speech to those who have lost their vocal cords due to disease or other reasons, a system that will enable the natural expressiveness of human speech and appropriate intonation. Another R&D project involves a system that will detect and monitor waterborne microorganisms. e recent abnormal weather conditions have resulted in growing numbers of cases of mass proliferation of microorganisms on scales exceeding any predictions, which leads to degraded water quality. Rion’s expertise is directly applicable to this water quality management system and its core technologies, so I expect the pace of technological development will speed up going forwards. —In which directions is the TDC likely to head in the coming years?We have various goals, but one line of development will certainly involve hearing aids as part of daily life in 2030. at’s a goal the entire company is pursuing. We hope to devise a system that will allow people who need hearing aids to be able to live entirely free of constraints in their daily lives. Countless human communications rely on the auditory pathway: announcements or names called out at hospital waiting rooms, railway stations, banks, and so forth. We want to create a society in which those who wear hearing aids will have easy access to this information. e ideal hearing aid meeting these requirements would involve the development of wireless technologies or technologies linked to smartphones. Another line of research involves the development of a series of devices based on AI. at’s going to require gathering knowledge and expertise in AI, so that’s one of Rion’s priority areas. Last but not least is enhancing our approach to putting the customer rst. Rion initiates some technology and product development eorts on its own, of course, but many eorts actually start with requests from our customers. For example, a railway company we had been working with for quite some time voiced the need for a system that could enable early earthquake detection and contribute to safer railway operations. e current system emerged from this request. at’s how innovative technologies and products are born. We work closely with our customers, who ask: Would it be possible to do (such and such)? en we set to work on nding the solution. Being attentive to our customers is the key step in technological development. I believe that by winning the trust of individual customers as reliable partners we can achieve our greatest goal, which is to provide extensive support and contributions to society.Kiyokatsu IwahashiDirector of the Technical Development Center. Since joining Rion, he’s contributed to the de-velopment of digital measurement technolo-gies used in noise and vibration measurements and to the development of analytical instru-ments. Previously, he served as the Engineering Manager of the S&V Measuring Instrument Department and as the Executive Ofcer of the Environmental Instrument Division. He has played key roles in various Rion breakthroughs.13

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