Companies

Fujifilm bets big on IoT, AI in its medical products

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2020 Published on January 09, 2020

Haruto Iwata, Managing Director, Fujifilm India.

Also plans customised cameras for Indian market

Fujifilm India is eyeing double-digit growth every year from now, against the 9-10 per cent growth it has been clocking over the past few years, largely driven by an expansion of its medical products business. This would entail a shift in focus to offering medical solutions through Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled products.

While the company has not invested in any manufacturing facility at the moment, it may consider setting up one here in the future for IoT- and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical products, considering the huge potential in India, Haruto Iwata, Managing Director, Fujifilm India, told BusinessLine. Some of the company’s IoT application software is already being developed in India, he added.

Growth driver

Going forward, Fujifilm India’s primary focus will be on offering healthcare solutions through AI and IoT, he said. The medical imaging technology business forms the company’s core growth driver in the country, contributing more than 50 per cent to its business.

The Japanese imaging technology major started operations in India in 2007 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation, Tokyo. Fujifilm India offers solutions in digital camera, photo imaging, medical products, graphic arts, life science systems, motion picture films, recording media and industrial products.

Fujifilm India first started offering IoT-enabled medical products four years ago. Over the past two years, it has been upping its focus on the segment. It also plans to enhance focus on its AI-enabled medical products, launched last year.

Increased adoption

AI and IoT have a huge potential in the healthcare field, said Iwata. Their adoption can help in effective screening and diagnosing. Though currently rather low, their adoption is set to increase in the future, he added.

When it comes to a focus on AI and IoT, Fujifilm’s strong global expertise in imaging — running to more than 85 years now — enables it to check and process images, and this differentiates it from other healthcare companies, said Iwata. He added that this is also another incentive for the company to drive more of this technology.

Having mostly focussed on computed radiography and digital radiography products in its medical business, the company will also be stepping up focus on mammography and endoscopy products, as the demand for these is increasing, said Iwata.

Instax cameras

As for its other verticals, Fujifilm is betting big on its Instax cameras, which print instant photos. The product, launched in India about five years ago, specifically targets young consumers, particularly women. Last year, the company sold 10 million units of Instax globally.

In India, Fujifilm sold 100,000 Instax cameras in FY19, and plans to sell 120,000 this fiscal. By the end of the next fiscal, it expects to double the sales to about 240,000 units, said Iwata.

Until now, Instax sales were primarily accruing from e-commerce channels, but Fujifilm now plans to sell it through more retail outlets than before. It is also looking at increasing the number of its concept stores for photography products, called Wonder Photo Shop, to 15 across the country, from the current five. This is aimed at offering customers a more personalised experience, as that is an important factor in selling cameras, he said.

X series range

Fujifilm is also betting big on its X series range of digital mirrorless cameras, which it started selling in India three or four years ago. In India, digital mirrorless cameras have a penetration of just 20 per cent at present. This could increase to 60-70 per cent in two or three years, in line with the global trend, said Iwata.

This is in the backdrop of the company’s camera business taking a hit due to the slowdown in the economy, while its medical business has remained insulated. But the penetration of mirrorless cameras has been increasing despite the slowdown, Iwata pointed out. The company’s graphic arts business has also been impacted by the slowdown, as the printing industry does not attract huge investments like before, he added.

Its imaging business, which comprises its camera and printing products and solutions, contributes 20-25 per cent to its overall business.

India-specific features

India is the most important market for Fujifilm in the Asia-Pacific region and, despite the current dampening growth indicators and slowing consumption, the company is betting on its long-term potential, Iwata said. The current scenario is a temporary issue and India remains a focus market, he added.

To drive his point home, Iwata said that in the next three-five years, the company may even come up with ‘India’s original camera’, or a camera with added features specific to the needs of the Indian customer. India’s photography is unique and different from that of other countries as it involves more vivid colours, Iwata observed. The Indian market is so important to Fujifilm that it may consider special features in its products, especially cameras, specifically suited to Indian needs and tastes, he added.

 

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Published on January 09, 2020
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