In many ways, Japan remains a land of big corporations. Young graduates still aspire to join a large company and climb the ranks. Yet for two days last week, there was a vivid glimpse of how things could be different.
Start-ups and venture capital firms converged at Tokyo’s Belle Salle Shibuya Garden for Tech in Asia Tokyo, one of three annual conferences—the others in Jakarta and Singapore—organized by the regional publisher.
With the Japanese venture capital sector going through what some see as a golden age, technology services look poised to transform stodgy legacy businesses. “Now when you release an app, it is no longer easy to get instant followers and users,” said James Riney, managing director of 500 Startups Japan. “Growth is in the legacy industries such as insurance, where IT hasn’t had much reach yet.”
Particularly in Japan, health care, nursing care, architecture, and real estate are industries that are ripe for start-ups with new ideas, said Hogil Doh, investment manager at Rakuten Ventures Japan Fund. “It’s like waiting for Christmas,” said Doh.
Until Christmas, here are the top innovations from the event, from Japan and beyond.
Wearable 360° Camera
FITT360 is a hands-free, hairband-shaped 360° camera that fits around the back of your neck. Launching in January next year, the wearable camera is aimed at leisure travelers and made by Linkflow, a spin-off of South Korea’s Samsung.
“You can be camping and cooking and the camera will follow your wife and kids running around you,” said Kevin Kim, CEO of Linkflow. The FITT360 is priced at $399. An earlier version, FITT360 Security, aimed at security companies, retails for $1,200.