In Japanese culture, there is a concept called ‘Ikigai’, which roughly translates to ‘reason for being’. But it’s more than just the sum of a few words. Ikigai encourages us to examine our skills, understand what both fulfils us and brings us happiness, then use these things to pursue a life that has meaning and impact in the world. If together they can also sustain you as a career, then the circle of Ikigai is complete.
The beauty of this idea is that it gives us a sense of self and something to aim for, but also accounts for the ups and downs. Because even the best laid plans can be thrown by things beyond our control – that little splash of ‘life’ that reminds us of what it means to be human, living in a world that is often beyond our comprehension.
As a company, this is something we think about a lot. Our corporate philosophy of Kyosei – living and working together for the common good – could easily be the dizygotic twin of Ikigai, so close are they in meaning. But where Ikigai speaks to a sense of the personal, Kyosei seeks collective impact. It means that we examine our world and consider how Canon expertise can fit into it and how, together, we can make it a better place for us all. This wider consideration of where the skills, fulfilment and happiness of many can contribute to the world has created a global company of phenomenal achievements – each conceived to bring joy, solve problems, enhance lives and see beyond what our eyes alone are capable of.
Our cameras are, of course, what we are best known for and they are never far from life’s reassuringly reliable events. They witness love, loss and new life. They follow birds as they fly and help us to feel the essence of twinkling stars months later. They are there as the world turns, the sun sets and rises, and help us to remember, bear witness and capture hearts and minds. An ever-present sight, whether that’s at international sporting events, like the Rugby World Cup, Presidential Inaugurations, royal events, and millions of weddings where the happy couple feel like royalty. Whenever the world changes, even slightly, there is someone holding a Canon camera to document it.
But we also sit quietly beside you as you work and learn, smoothing the path so that you can be more productive, helping you to achieve more and realise your big ideas. That might be at a desk in an office, or a creative studio, with Canon printers and print services always at hand. You might be in a manufacturing plant, where you work alongside robots with Canon machine vision products acting as their ‘eyes’. At local, regional and national sports academies, where coaches use networks of our cameras to monitor the performance of their athletes. Creative minds take our powerful projectors and turn artworks into immersive experiences, while museums and galleries open up new worlds, creating replicas of priceless artifacts with our elevated print technology so everyone can touch them.
When you walk into a store and your head is turned by a tempting new gadget or an elegant-looking new fragrance, there’s every chance that the display is printed on a Canon machine – possibly the packaging too. Think of the time you stopped to rest your feet in your favourite café after a hard day’s shopping, that selfie you took with your iced caramel macchiato? The funky wallpaper in the background was likely printed on a Canon machine.
And let’s not forget the semiconductor chips. Because even if you remain unconvinced by everything you’ve already read, it’s hard to escape electronics. And the ones you use may well contain chips that can be traced back to our machines – and further – to the scientists in our R&D labs. We’ve been designing and making equipment that produces computer chips for over fifty years and the brilliant brains of our people are laser-focused on creating better, smaller and more powerful chips. The kind that will find themselves sitting alongside our latest CMOS and SPAD image sensors, as they power autonomous vehicles and conservation drones alike, in our AI-driven future.
Even we admit to being surprised when we learn the ways in which Canon products find themselves in every conceivable workplace. In the labs of marine biologists, tucked away in restaurant kitchens, monitoring produce on farms and keeping people safe at festivals. On film sets, in hospitals, sports stadiums and universities. In the deepest parts of our oceans and even at the International Space Station. Space exploration is an old friend of Canon’s. From camera-equipped microsatellites that beam incredible images of our changing earth to analysing samples from asteroids, when we look to the sky, we don’t just marvel at the constellations, we see boundaries to push and new places to explore. A view of and from space lets us see our planet and people as they truly are – precious and extraordinary. With such an inspiration, is it any wonder that we never stop searching for new ways to look more closely at it?
And while looking closely might automatically bring to mind the many eyes of a bug through a macro lens, there are so many more ways to explore the minutiae of the world. Scientists connect our cameras to powerful microscopes, showing us miniscule structures and cells that hold incredible secrets, waiting to be discovered. And our many breakthroughs in medical imaging are breathtakingly powerful, capable of revealing tiny details that can save lives. Think technology that can detect heart defects in unborn babies, so they can undergo treatment in the womb. And CT scanners that can help clinicians to pinpoint a blockage in the tiniest blood vessels of the brain. But they are also designed with kindness.
Being in hospital is often the last place anyone wants to be, and that’s why we put enormous thought, care and attention into our diagnostic solutions. We want every patient to feel at ease when they undergo CT and MRI scans and ultrasounds. We give doctors incredible tools that use the latest in Artificial Intelligence to help them diagnose, treat or monitor their patients quickly, effectively and non-invasively. Which means they can do what they’re best at, for as many people as possible.
So, we are there for the first ultrasound and the tiny racing heartbeat that sends your own heart soaring and the routine scans that keep you and your family healthy. You won’t ever notice us because you have more important things on your mind, but we’re glad to be there for you.
Over our lifetime, our own family has grown to over 300 companies. Like most, we share a name, but each member has their own distinct personality, skills and goals. But we have Kyosei in common and, alongside it, our Ikigai. Our reason for being. Our sense of purpose – your life.
Because your life is more important than our brand. We just help you to live it.
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Later than usual, but absolutely on time, Canon EXPO 2023 went beyond cameras and printers to secure our place as a tech company for the AI generation.
Muhammed Muheisen attended the UN SDG Action Awards, where competition is the last thing on anyone’s mind, and everyone had a powerful story to tell.