How do hardware startups gain steam in Japan ?

When we talk about Japanese startups, it means software startups in many cases. In this article, I’m going to introduce Japanese “hardware startups”. It’s needless to say, Japanese hardware startups significantly gain steam, someone mention it’s “Monodukuri 2.0”. Anyways we can’t take our eyes from the next generation of hardware startups from everywhere in Japan.

First of all, I’m going to google by signal keywords, and see about what I can get search results. For example, I’m searching by “Monodukuri Japan Startups” and reaching a lot of results, and most of them are about “DMM.make AKIBA“. (As you know, “AKIBA” means “AKIHABARA” just in case) Well what is DMM.make AKIBA ?

DMM.make AKIBA is an institution to develop and test a hardware. The concept is “Everything needed for makers” . They spend totaling five hundred million yen to prepare the latest equipments and renovate 10th to 12th floors of Fuji Soft Akihabara Building. There are understandably 3D printers, cutting mechanics, hydraulic testers, HDMI indicators, and mechanics to assure safety of packing and so on. The one of the founder is Takuma Iwasa, CEO of Cerevo Inc. He propounds “Let’s make AKIBA to be the best place for hardware startups.” Now we are going to move the question, who Takuma Iwasa is and what Cerevo is ?

A very simple explanation of Cerevo is “Japanese startups of home electronics”, and what the most famous product of them is Liveshell at this time. Liveshell is video streaming device with no laptop. You can just connect it to video camera to stream live video on Ustream. It’s extremely simple and useful. They don’t reveal the sales volume, but a half of them are from abroad according to Internet information.

Be described below are some reviews of Liveshell. In most of cases, they gave good evaluations. I saw a couple of Japanese reviews, and received impression that Liveshell gets good evaluation in the world.

Great Steaming Device for starters.
Easy setup, got online quickly.
Buy It.
Perfect for live streaming with Ustream.
Cerevo Worked Well.
What a great little device !

Cerevo has released new product “Hackey” just 4 days ago. “Hackey” is a little key, but it’s not just a little key.(Of cause it is not !) You can operate web service work with “Hackey” by turning the key. It is difficult to image how to use it though, according to their entry of the blog, the situation of using Cerevo is for example, “Children turn Hackey to tell their parents that they got home.” “Lighting and extinction” and so on.

The feature of the product from Cerevo is available for customization. They are completed product as hardware, but it’s not as software. You can customize them to suit yourself.

Takuma Iwasa made Cerevo in 2007 after worked for Matsushita electric industrial (Current Panasonic) for 5 years. The general feeling is that hardware startups in Japan is just gain steam these days, therefore Cerevo was made much earlier than other companies.

OK. Is there any hardware startup in Japan ? Just only Cerevo ? The answer is absolutely NO. It’s not many, but it surely exists. WHILL is one of significant company making a electric wheel chair. They started WHILL on May, 2012. The members came from companies like Toyota, Nissan and Olympus. “Design Your Own Road” is one of their important vision, and they reinvent a wheel chair with highly spec function and beautiful design along with the vision.

And exiii is also one of Japanese hardware startups. Their vision is “Entertain usual days with robotics and design”. The 3 members started exiii to make handiii that is a bionic hand. It is a kind of an artificial hand, can move to sense a little electrical activity in a muscle. They got 3.5 million yen from Japanese crowd founding called “Kibidango”, and we know this is fine example to develop hardware costs a lot of money.

Well I wrote about the summary of Japanese hardware startups, but it’s just a tip of the iceberg. Besides, it’s a tip of the tip. The day, people got really into them is presumably upcoming. We will see some of these products, people develop behind closed door are coming under the spotlight. We(MAKERS) will follow them and report what is going on. Thank you for reading.

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