Samurai Incubate exhibits fun new startups and ideas in Tokyo


February 16th 2013, at Telecom Center in Aomi, Tokyo

Tokyo-based startup incubator Samurai Incubate is planning to launch another co-working space at Odaiba, Tokyo’s waterfront area. The group already has a venue for incubating startups at another location, but the new one will focus on gadget and hardware manufacturing startups. It is jointly organized with a local architectural firm.

The new incubation venue will be called MONO, and will be launched in the end of this month. To commemorate the opening the incubator recently held an exhibition and conference event for startups called Samurai MONO Festival Vol. 1, featuring a number of notable people from the gadget and hardware manufacturing scene.

Let’s have a look at some of the interesting ideas and startups who we met at the event [1].

The Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology, Tokyo

A team from this university showed us several interesting ideas including:

Kansei Senkyoku – Mind Jukebox


Kansei Senkyoku (literally ‘music selection by sense’) chooses a song that fits your current feeling by detecting your brain waves. It’s known that alpha brain waves emerge when you are stable before sleep, and the beta wave is usually seen when you are doing something that requires concentration. Accordingly, the app selects a song to play, and help you get a better sleep or do your work more efficiently.



This tablet app’s name is a combination of ‘recipe’ and ‘receipt’, and it helps you find a recipe for a meal the items you have just bought at the supermarket. By scanning the receipts for your groceries, the app will search for possible meals that can be cooked with these materials. You can then print out the recipe from Ricoh’s internet-enabled photocopiers. (The project is jointly conducted with Ricoh.)

Smart frosted-glass system


Large glass projection film, often used for digital signage systems at convenience stores and other public places, is usually very costly. But by combining normal frosted-glass and a camera-enabled Android handset, the team has developed a very cheap interactive touch panel system that allows users to control a screen with flicking motions over top of the glass, as your fingers are detected by the camera of the Android handset on the other side of the glass. The coodinate data for the screen is stored in a Google Docs file, and the app will show you the next screen which corresponds to your finger motion.


With this app users can create multiple parallel universes, based on someone else’s previous postings. This collective/collaborate writing results in a wide variety of novel endings, which sounds like a lot of fun. The app is expected to be available on iOS and Android soon.

This idea reminds me of the British-American film Sliding Doors, where the story alternates between two parallel universes.

Goeng, an iOS app that aims to help Japanese Facebook users communicate with foreigners

Goeng helps Japanese Facebook users find friends from outside the country who share the same hobbies and interests, or like the same things. Once you and that friend get along well, you can obtain their national flag and add it to your collection. Through this sort of collection you can also earn badges.

Gamba, an easier way to do daily reports


Making a report and submitting it to your boss on a daily basis can often be way too much hassle. Gamba allows employees to post daily reports to their bosses in a very easy way. I assumed this app was targeting SMEs or startups, but the app’s creator says they have many big Japanese companies as their users as well.

Elevator pitches with handheld megaphones

The festival also had an elevator-pitch session, where entrepreneurs were requested to pitch with a handheld megaphone (see picture below). When all was said and done, the winners were:

  • 3rd place: Shokunin-san, a job matching site for construction workers.
  • 2nd place: Anipipo, a crowdfunding site for animation content. It’s launching soon but still waiting for Paypal to approve them as a merchant.
  • 1st place: Craftstep, a how-to collection of handcraft matters, including things like Japanese paper foldings.
Tablet-focused web developer Social Agent pitches at Mono Festival

  1. Note that not all the startups introduced above have received fundraising from Samurai Incubate.  ↩