All I Want for Holidays is…. More Hardware Startups Gifts!
With the Christmas hustle and bustle quickly approaching, Monozukuri Hub Meetup Tokyo was celebrated in a third edition with a pitch session at Tokyo`s docks space. Check out five startups with their unique solutions in robotics, VR and clean energy who have hit the stage on our pitch session!
Monozukuri Hub Meetup series started almost three years ago, in Kyoto, with the simple goal to help entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem players connect and share knowledge. As a startup who has been watching the local startup ecosystem grow, we are proud to see a surge of successful entrepreneurial endeavors. The themes for our meetups continue to reflect MBC's focus on challenges hardware startups are trying to tackle, and the particular market they’re entering. Thanks to our partners from docks and creww. for helping make this event happen!
The event was kick-started by a opening speech from Marie from Makers Boot Camp, when she welcomed attendees and shared MBC company’s mission on supporting hardware startups as they grow and move towards their next steps. Building a hardware startup is very demanding, and trying to build one that expands to the global arena is even much harder. ‘We try to make it easier for hardware startups’, concluded Marie and welcomed the first pitching startup to the stage.
Here’s a quick recap of the startups’ pitches:
Qoobo: better than a real pet
Shunsuke Aoki has spent the past eleven years channeling his love for science and cute things into Yukai Engineering Inc, a company that is applying the latest advances in robotics to make the world more pleasant. He credited his company’s internal competition as a remarkably good way for coming up with a new product idea. ‘Last year’s winner team created a furry robot called Qoobo, which gets its name from a combination of the French word 'queue' for ‘tail’ and ‘robot’’, said Shunsuke. A soft, round cushion with a robotic tail was designed to provide a sense of comfort without squeezing a real cat. It can wag and curl its tail softly in response to the strokes and touches.
‘Initially, we wanted to create a robot for apartment dwellers who can’t own a pet, but turned out that it has a huge healing effect’, said Shunsuke Aoki.
Following its successful Kickstarter campaign, Qoobo debuted at CEATEC 2017, the largest annual IT and electronics trade show in Japan, and quickly garnered international acclaim. Eyeing the healthcare industry, the startup is now striving to unlock the B2B potential of their brand.
For real pet lovers: NYC-startup PlayDate aims to rescue your pet from loneliness and boredom!
Hapbeat: when music comes to life
Nowadays, music isn’t only delivered through your eardrums — it can also get under your skin. Hapbeat is pioneering the next-generation’ haptic technology for use in a range of products, including gaming, music, VR and safety education. The startup born out of Tokyo University of Technology develops a wearable device which converts sound into body sensations. It consists of two motors and a string and uses tension forces to transmit high fidelity vibrations.
Hapbeat CEO Yusuke Yamazaki believes that it can revolutionize the way we listen to music and experience VR/ AR in games or security applications.
‘Hapbeat technology offers three distinct advantages compared to other solutions: easy to wear, covers wider areas and provides better subjective impressions’, said Yusuke Yamazaki.
A small yet powerful device has been already deployed for safety education purposes and tested at the fireworks show where people with disabilities could enjoy listening to impressive bangs.
Palsbots: lullaby from a furry robot
Do you have a habit of using electronic devices before turning in? Naoki Mima from Palsbots believes that a blue light emitted from the screen is one of the reasons we are suffering from a sleep deprivation. In a market saturated with wearables and sleep trackers, their fluffy robot Nemoph looks like an ideal bedtime companion for soothing users to sleep. The communication with your sleeping buddy starts when you touch it. Unsurprisingly, it is packed with lots of tech and sensors, but the primary function of Nemoph is a sleep aid that focuses on playing a range of sounds, whether they are lullabies or audiobooks (even original stories), as much as having a small chit-chat.
‘If you touch it, the robot will tell you the estimated time. There is no need to look at the bright screen’, said Naoki Mima.
Palsbots launched a product campaign on the crowdfunding platform Makuake in October 2018 and were backed up all robots in just half a day. It is currently working on ways to improve communication between robots and people, and continues to win users’ hearts by introducing their cute Line stamps featuring Nemoph.
Xela Robotics teaches robots how to grasp
The simple task of picking something up for industrial robots is not as easy as it sounds when we read deep tech studies. In most cases, robots cannot robustly grasp unknown objects without deforming or dropping them. The sense of touch allows robots to control objects with greater precision and sensitivity, says Xela Robotics CTO Alexander Schmitz, who's originally from Austria. The spin-off startup from Waseda University develops 3-axis force sensors that enable sensitive grasping and manipulation. It provides a detailed feedback for a robot which can distinguish stable vs. unstable grasps, do slip detection and prevention, object recognition, in-hand manipulation, etc.
Global Packaging Robots Market is estimated to reach $5 billion by 2024 and has been growing at a CAGR of 14.6% from 2016 to 2024.
With a mission to achieve safe human-robot interaction, Xela Robotics team is aiming towards an ambitious goal to integrate tactile sensors with human fingers and arms.
H24E Innova: Hydrogen as a Service
Prior to launching H24E Innova, Tadashi Kubo — who is currently based in Toulouse, France for AIRBUS Accelerator program, had over a decade of experience in renewable and conventional energy. While joining the Cambridge MBA Program, Tadashi came up with an idea to generate clean electricity by combining ultra-short pulse laser technology with a hydrogen-based fuel cell. Until recently, there has been little investment to bring a hydrogen-as-a-fuel solution to a scale which is surprising — it can be considered as a clean energy carrier similar to electricity. ‘No one else has commercialised hydrogen yet’, said Tadashi Kubo.
Turning a great idea into a viable business has had tremendous success: 12 awards won in a year and 250K euro grant received from the Japanese government and Kyoto University, where this technology has been developed. It is inspiring to all entrepreneurs who want to make the world greener, help solve shortages of power and drinking water.
The meetup was wrapped up with closing remarks from Narimasa Makino, CEO of Makers Boot Camp. He thanked the event partners and invited attendees to discuss the topics of the day and more at the networking session. Entrepreneurs, investors and community members were able to mingle over the drinks and check out the startups’ products on display.