This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.
At the International Tokyo Toy Show 2016 held earlier in June, major exhibitors such as Bandai subsidiary Megahouse and Takara Tomy were pushing Virtual Reality (VR)-related products among a variety of toys they’re offering… beyond all the other items ranging from educational wares to stationery supplies being pushed.
But in terms of startups, if only focusing on company type, Delaware-incorporated InfoLens attracted attention with a VR(in InfoLens‘ case, the 360-degree “StealthVR“)-centered booth as well as a banner highlighting the fact that it is Japan’s largest importer of the Minecraft Official Licensed Products.
Launching operations from 2014 in Silicon Valley and Tokyo, this startup has now become a top distributor (by amount) of Smartphone-based VR headsets in the Japanese market. It was founded by Hiro Yasukawa, ex-VP of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and global lead of PlayStation Official Licensed Products who reported to the group CEO.
As InfoLens CEO, Yasukawa has gathered a strong team of developers while leveraging his experience for networking in California based on his SCE VP role and also as Head of Technology Alliances organizing global alliance deals with Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google, Facebook and Twitter, not to mention San Diego’s Qualcomm, regarding PlayStation 2, 3, Vita and 4.
The year 2016 portends an expansion – led by Tokyo – as to VR utilization. The harbinger was the renewal in spring of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (aka Miraikan) permanent exhibits, which was accompanied by the limited-time Game On exhibit featuring VR head-mounted displays. In addition, Japanese mobilephone carriers have been busy marketing Samsung’s GalaxyVR products.
As an aside, it is notable that announcements in succession of VR-mounted surgical and manipulation systems (e.g., from Tokyo Medical & Dental University, NHK, etc.) which made use of Japan devices, including those provided by the Sony group, have been taking place over the past year. Indeed, VRtech and telepresence combined promise a healthcare not to mention a safety revolution in the near future.
Looking ahead to later this month, there will be the Content Tokyo show, followed after summer by Makuhari Messe playing host to the Tokyo Game Show in September, showcasing more VR apps. It will be interesting to see what further activities related to this technology the Redwood City firm, which handles unrelated Jazwares kid toys importation too, can unveil for users in Japan henceforth.