Japan’s Global Brain invests in ring-shaped wearable device developer 16Lab



See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based startup-focused investment firm Global Brain announced yesterday that it has invested an undisclosed sum in Japanese startup 16Lab, the hardware developer behind ring-shaped wearable device Ozon.

Ozon is a gesture control device that fits on a user’s finger and allows the control of devices or appliances such as smartphones, tablets, cameras, TVs, and lighting fixtures. Top developers not only from Japan but also from other countries including Estonia and Spain are participating in the development project. 16Lab has partnered with Alps Electric (TSE:6770) and other established manufacturers in the fields of semiconductors, batteries, and chemicals to develop the device in a way of open innovation.

The device’s interface was created under the direction of noted designer Manabu Tago of MTDO. 16Lab plans to start shipping the first generation of the product next summer in eight countries.

Prototypes of the Ozon device was exhibited at showcase events like CEATEC 2014 and Any Tokyo recently, and drew great interest from industry watchers and consumers. To assure the best quality in order to provide the best user experience, all sensors and electronic parts in the device are made in Japan. For hardware startups, a big issue will be to gain the reliability of their products with few resources because the repeated process of endurance tests and improvements require continuous operations, so partnering with big companies in this sector is key.

Logbar’s Ring may be a competitor for Ozon. THE BRIDGE may test these devices in the future and report on which one offers the best user experience.