At the first session of TechCrunch Tokyo, Telepathy’s CEO Takahito Iguchi took to the stage along with Kevin Landis, from chief investment manager from Firsthand Capital Management. Our readers will recall that FCM (NASDAQ:SVVC) invested $5 million in Telepathy back in August.
Moderator Ken Nishimura got right to the point, asking about Google Glass, the product to which Telepathy’s glasses are often compared. Iguchi explained:
Google Glass is not in the Japanese market yet, so it’s hard to compare. But our device is focused on communication. For humans, communication is a vast activity. And smartphones are a big part of that. […] Similar to Google glass, power consumption is key. In order to have full time communications up, that’s a big area of our development .
Iguchi disclaimed that his PR team has put some limitations on how much he can say about his product, but with regards to its user interface he says that he wants to minimize it as much as possible. “It’s a big paradigm shift that we have here,” he added.
It should be forgotten and not so visible, he noted. Nishimura followed up by asking if this would involved the use of gestures, and Iguchi froze for a moment in what might be a telling ‘non-response’ response.
Kevin further emphasized this point be drawing a comparison to other wearable technologies already on the market:
We think Fitbit and Jawbone will do quite well, and will maybe will have successful IPOs. They have big markets they’re going after, but they have just one use case: people’s desire to monitor and improve their fitness. […] But that’s just one use case. With smartphones, the products sits between users when you talk to another person. But telepathy takes the product out from between people. If it is done just right, it will feel like the product disappears. and to me that’s true elegance.
One of the most interesting moments of the talk came when Iguchi was asked whether or not he could really bring this product to market, in a way that makes it cheaper than Google Glass. He couldn’t say anything about the price or exact release date, but he did speak a little bit to the challenge of creating such a device, as well as why they are taking on that challenge:
This is not easy, but we are doing it because it’s not easy. That may sound a little strange, but if it is something that anyone can do then it is not worthwhile or challenging – it’s not innovation. We are happy to try it.
Iguchi also talked a little bit about how his team is spread across both Silicon Valley and Tokyo. Members in Silicon Valley are strong in software, user interface and core application development. And his team in Tokyo is focused on the core hardware development.
He added that when his product does come to market, it will likely be in the US market to start with.
The team still obviously has a lot of work to, perhaps symbolically illustrated by the fact that he was wearing his glasses hung around his neck, rather than on his head.
Note that Iguchi’s quotes are taken from a live translation on-site. He spoke in Japanese for this talk. ↩