xGoogler founders-led startup Tonari launches new model of life-size video conferencing system

Image credit: Tonari

Tokyo-based Tonari, the Japanese startup developing and offering a next-gen communication service that connects remote locations under the same name, introduced on Wednesday a new product called ‘tonari lite’, along with the ‘tonari pro’ existing model. The lite version is also available on a subscription-based rental basis.

Their products have been installed in many organizations and facilities over the past three years, but the company felt it needed to reduce costs and simplify installation for further expansion. The company improved the manufacturing process and redesigned the product to achieve versatile size and price optimization. This simplified the installation process and made it easier to fit into international deployments and smaller teams.

The lite version maintains the functionality of the previous model while saving space, and is optimized for small-group communication, making it easy to use in small offices, medical facilities, educational institutions, and other locations where space is limited. In addition, the revised design significantly reduces installation work. The company expects the lite version to contribute to reducing the frequency of overseas business trips while maintaining smooth cross-border communication.

Tonari was founded in 2018 by Taj Campbell, a former product manager at Google, and Ryo Kawaguchi, a former engineer at Google (the product name was Continuum while the company name was WorkAnywhere at that time). The company has developed a life-size video system that seamlessly connects two remote locations, creating a smooth and realistic space with a natural eye contact mechanism, clear audio, and low latency.

The company secured 340 million yen (about $3.2 million US in the exchange rate at the timing) in a seed round (led by One Capital, with participation from Mistletoe Japan, Leave a Nest Capital, ABBALab, and several angel investors) in November of 2020, and subsequently 450 million yen (about $3.3 million US in the exchange rate at the timing) in a pre-series A round (from Real Tech Fund and One Capital) in June of 2022.

via PR Times