“Demo Day” was held where there was a showcasing of the latest products from Open Challenge 1.
“Open Challenge” is a business support program for individuals and organizations with IoT related product plans and developing prototypes. Open Challenge serves as an opportunity for participants to work alongside with Supporting Companies that are familiar with technology and businesses related to IoT. The mutual objective between the participants and the Supporting Companies is to turn the participants’ project of prototype creation into a viable business, through the assistance from the Supporting Companies.
This round of Demo Day served as a place for exhibition for all participants of this Open Challenge Batch 1.
For this batch of participants, DMM.make AKIBA started accepting entry applications from aspiring participants in January 2017. During the three months’ period after the admission, 11 teams took the stage for exhibition where they showed how much their ideas have been brushed up and where they are headed going forward with their product development vision.
Developed by the startup coming fresh out of the Tokyo Institute of Technology Laboratory, "Hapbeat" is a wearable speaker that enables experiencing of deep bass on a listener’s body.
Aimed at people who enjoy the experience of deep audio vibrations that one usually finds only at clubs, the Hapbeat team was able to develop a product that allows users to experience precisely that, except without having to be at clubs/right on their bodies. Users can experience such loud, dynamic audio on their bodies simply from wearing the device, allowing for such experience to be facilitated virtually anywhere, regardless of their immediate surrounding environment.
Compared to other products in the market that are based on sound outputs such as conventional headphones and speakers, Hapbeat is superior in terms of its sound pressure, realism and portability of the experience. With that competitive advantage, the Hapbeat team hopes that the popularization of this product experience can come, especially from users who particularly value sound in their everyday entertainment.
During the Open Challenge, the Hapbeat team particularly valued access to DMM.make AKIBA’s easy-to-use mass-production prototype machine, which enabled the core process of the brush up, which in turn enabled the product to go from initial to intermediary phase of its prototype. Going forward, the team plans to develop businesses around versions of Hapbeat that are specialized to complement VR content.
[Organization name] Hapbeat LLC (Representative: Yusuke Yamazaki)
"OscilloPen" is an affordable, easy-to-use, pen type oscilloscope developed for science students who do electronic making and craftsmanship that involve electronics.
For those who do electronics development work, it is impossible to circumvent the process of watching electricity signals. Given that, there is currently no other way besides oscilloscopes for checking electricity signals. However, oscilloscopes are large, take up a large amount of space, making it difficult to own them with ease for individuals as they are also expensive.
There lies the need which the OscilloPen team intends to address---the team developed OscilloPen, which allowed for ease of use when used in conjunction with smartphone applications. OscilloPen is able to lower the hurdle for the process of electric signal confirmations, especially for people starting out in the electronic making. By combining it with the complementary educational kit that is currently in development separately, users will be able to learn the basic measurement methods effectively through such combination.
Using prototypes created through this Open Challenge, OscilloPen plans to focus its next set of efforts on promoting collection of data from user tests and user feedback.
[Organization name] Azure Lab. (Representative: Lee Ching Hoi)
Hearing the voices of seniors who were expressing a sense of unease and concerns around going outside---that experience was the origin of the development of "Communication Stick" in Japan where the aging society is progressing steadily.
This smart cane with a GPS capability as well as a messaging communication function was created for people with such concerned about going outside---inspiring a product that provides not only physical but also a much-needed psychological support that enables the target users to go outside without the fear of getting lost or stumbling/falling while walking.
During the Open Challenge, the team made a major progress around market research for further analyzing this use case. As an outcome of conducting hearing sessions, this is what turned out as the existing reality for the target users: there are indeed many elderly people who wish to go outside for maintaining their health, engaging and participating in a society, to have a developing relationship with other people. However, the surrounding environment, road conditions, and traffic volume are major source of concerns. There are some people who even stuck some reflection mirror boards on their own bodies out of both desperate desire as well as fear for when going outside.
What was particularly significant to discover was that there were voices not only of the elderly people themselves but also of their families and caregivers who value being able to arrange situations where their preparation for the elder can then be done with peace of mind.
Based on this progress, the intended focus will be for enhancing not only the functions of the hardware, but also the functions that enable third party attendants to come to the situation of care giving needs, information on road traffic volume, ability to exchange data on health, etc. With these, the team behind Communication Stick intends to focus on services that can provide peace of mind to the immediate users and those around the users, for the ultimate goal of leading more elderlies to go outside.
[Organization name] Communication Stick Project (Representative: Tomohito Saigusa)
Among the 7 billion people who live in the world, 1.2 billion are living without electricity. "EGAO project" is a project dedicated for the purpose of delivering electricity to those people using the Solar Home System (SHS).
To deliver electricity to developing countries, we initially tried to sell a combination of light and SHS. However, that approach did not bring succeed in truly connecting with the local demand. Price of household appliances rose considerably locally, which made it difficult to make them appealing for actual purchases on the consumer end. So then the decision was made to pivot: combine the offering of SHS with what the local people really desire: a television set which has a very high distribution power for distributing influential content.
Going forward, upon completing the prototype, the team aims for the gradual distribution and proliferation of SHS while also inspiring its popular use locally in the target countries.
[Organization name] PEAR Carbon Offset Initiative (Representative: Naoki Matsuo)
Looking deceptively like a simple woodworking puzzle, "Obake puzzle" is a toy piece with its puzzle pieces that look like ghosts when their “eyes” lit up when pieces are placed in the correct spots. Mechanism enabling this delightful user experience is the incorporation of an electronic board that can do contactless feeding of electricity.
As a puzzle, "Obake puzzle" is a difficult one. Each individual puzzle piece has a unique shape, raising the level of difficulty making it suitable even for adults to enjoy. And by incorporating a function where the puzzle pieces’ eyes light up when placed in the correct position, it offers a great sense of accomplishment for kids, making it very approachable and fun to repeat use.
The team started via selling woodworking puzzles that do not have the eye-glowing capabilities, which thus far is already selling about 170 units. On social interactions, given the puzzle’s level of complexity and difficulty, people are starting to share how they are competing against each other on their puzzle solving times.
Currently, the team is holding popular workshops where people can come learn to create “Ghosts with glowing eyes”.
Going forward, the team plans to continue developing various kinds of ghost puzzle products starting with the version with the glowing eyes.
[Organization name] Obake puzzle (Representative: Yukito Inoue)
Born out of a parent’s wish to capture a child's most natural facial expression in a family photo, "BLINCAM" is a camera that enables one to take a photo with a wink. It often was the case where, by the moment when parents had taken out their smartphones, they had missed out on the facial expression or the moment of their kids they wanted to capture in a photo. So, out of a wish to create a way where pressing the shutter button of a camera can come a lot more naturally, the team developed a camera that can be attached to glasses.
The motion of one’s face around the eyes is detected by the sensor and from that motion trigger comes a shot of a photo. The photographed data can be confirmed immediately after via a smartphone. This makes it a product best suited not only for taking family photos, but also for moments where one cannot take eyes off the action in front of one’s eyes including watching sports etc. Given its ability to be attached to existing glasses, the product is also excellent for fashion compatibilities.
Having worked on increasing the level of core precision of the product during the Open Challenge, the team has now begun pre-sale. Going forward, the team works on further promoting the product sales and product version updates.
[Organization name] Hapbeat LLC (Representative: Yusuke Yamazaki)
While worldwide plastic production has been on a steady rise year over year, its adverse environmental impact has also become an issue.
Many problems that need solving continue to exist as the world continues its use of plastics. This includes the “microplastic issue” where marine organisms erroneously consume plastics, as well as the earth-wide global warming and other marine pollution.
Out of concerns for these environmental issues, highly functional vegetable plastic was developed that are made of vegetable-derived additives. This plastic is based on the existing biodegradable plastic and polylactic acid, and by adding unique additives to it, a material which can withstand general use by improving heat resistance and durability was born.
Nonwoven fabrics that uses the plant-based plastic is also able to dye colors with natural dyes. This quality has become a magnet, courting attention from the latest of the fashion industry.
Going forward, we plan to explore ways to apply this technology to specific existing industrial products as well as develop new products.
[Organization name] BioWorks Co., Ltd. (Representative: Yukihiro Imai)
The origin story for the development of smart glass, “OTON GLASS", was a personal one--- Mr. Shimakage, the founder, saw his father struggle with stroke, which left him with sequelae that significantly impaired his ability to read texts.
Thankfully, Mr. Shimakage’s father has become able to live without having to need the product as a result of productive rehabilitation efforts. Nonetheless, the OTON GLASS team is progressing through the on-field test of its product use case for other people who are expressing strong demand due to their visual impairment and reading disability.
Currently, the team is taking orders for production, while iterating through the loop between user research and product offering brush-up.
During the Open Challenge, through communicating with users who need OTON GLASS and then interviewing the communities that require them, the team was able to identify elements necessary for further product development.
The team aims to create a mechanism where they can facilitate better incorporation of their product offering into their societal contribution via further verification of their hypothesis.
[Organization name] OTON GLASS Inc. (Representative: Keisuke Shimakage)
Has anyone had moments where they wondered, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I had a way of navigating through a recipe on a smartphone without having to make the screen dirty?’ Addressing such issues in everyday life, SWIPE APRON, was developed.
By installing a conductive cloth in the pocket part of its apron, one can navigate through screen operation which connects via Bluetooth. Laundry is no problem---the pocket portion can be detached for washing, if necessary.
Before the Open Challenge, the only scroll movement possible was in the vertical direction. However, after the Open Challenge, horizontal direction movement is now possible. Going forward, the team intends to make the conductive cloth product open-source based, which further extends the range of new operations and features of the product.
[Organization name] Generative Idea Flow (Representative: Tetsuya Tsuchida)
Ms. Endo who is on the development team of Vege Plan’s team, says that it used to be 365-days-a-year kind of work about a year ago in his life. She had been in a condition where he was not feeling well either physically or mentally, which he noticed that the root cause of it was in his diet. That was where he conceived the idea of the service of Vege Plan, intending to address the issue of other working people who are also short of their daily dose of necessary vegetable intake in this busy work life.
One cannot ensure proper amount of vegetable intake when one is so busy in today’s pace of modern work life. For those people, the team thought that they could ensure such intake in the form of vegetable soup which can be easily taken in the office setting.
The soup is made with only vegetables and a small amount of salt. There is no oil or unnecessary additives etc, only consisted of ingredients that are easy on the body. In addition such healthy make up, the user can also enjoy four different types of paste which comes in accordance with the four seasons, with variety in toppings such as nuts soymilk and more to change the overall taste.
The team is planning its service offering to large corporations. Going forward, they plan on offering the ability to combine their service with a AGEs (glycosylation) sensor from SHARP, one of the Support companies of this Open Challenge, to develop a mechanism that enables companies to let their employees track and follow up their physical condition and wellness status.
[Organization name] AWCLE Co. (Representative: Chihiro Endo)
Sharing a festive, celebratory, exciting moments---that comes with human emotions being expressed in various forms of bodily gestures. That can include hugging, holding hands, shoulder to shoulder people sharing a live experience with others either at a music or sports event venues. “-A-C-T-" is the smart clothe product that has made possible the visualization of the human body interaction that connects such human connections.
-A-C-T- stands for Alternative Communication Technology---the product works by the wearer connecting with another human being. The clothes have power supply function, which was developed during the Open Challenge. These clothes have mounted LED lights, which are lit when the wearer initiates communication actions that trigger the lighting process. Going forward, the team plans to increase the types of clothing to be offered. This allows, for example, for visualization of how body interaction occurred in what manner during certain events when the clothes that have the ability to send data to the cloud are offered to the mix.
[Organization name] Etw.Vonneguet (Representative: designer Olga)
On the event day, the venue was packed with full attendance attracting much attendance of various forms and positions in business including the general public, investors, people from media etc. Each participating team was awarded a valuable opportunity to better understand the potential of their project through interacting with other attending members through their exhibitions and conversations.
Currently in the planning for subsequent Open Challenge programs are: 2nd term announcement and exhibition event for Open Challenge Batch 2 in the autumn as well as recruitment process for Open Challenge Batch 3. DMM.make AKIBA will continue to keep following up on informing this community on how various new projects are finding innovating ways to make the world a slightly better a place. Towards that, DMM.make AKIBA operations team will keep you up to date on exciting new products, updates and developments.
Regarding commencement of the admissions process of Open Challenge 3, we will make the announcement via DMM.make AKIBA's Facebook page, DMM.make's Twitter, and more.
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