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Japan’s H2L unveils haptic wearable controller UnlimitedHand on Kickstarter

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Tokyo-based H2L, a Japanese hardware startup spun off from the University of Tokyo, today announced a haptic game controller called UnlimitedHand at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 and launched a Kickstarter campaign this morning. With a bandage-like device having motion sensor and muscle displacement sensor around the arm, the UnlimitedHand controller allows users to input their hand motions into a game. The device has a functional electrical stimulator that gives users a virtual touch, allowing users to “feel” the impact or the touch of a character in a game. Virtual reality games integrating head-mounted displays have been attracting gamers. By integrating with these devices, the UnliitedHand controller gives users a unique experience as seen in the video above. H2L is exhibiting the product at TechCrunch Disurpt SF 2015, which is taking place today to Wednesday in San Francisco. They started fundraising via the Kickstarter campaign, planning to provide the UnlimitedHand device to gaming companies, gaming developers, and game users. The product is available $188 to $248 through pre-orders. They will integrate with more content and gaming titles leveraging virtual or augmented reality technologies. Translated by Masaru Ikeda Edited by Kurt Hanson

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Tokyo-based H2L, a Japanese hardware startup spun off from the University of Tokyo, today announced a haptic game controller called UnlimitedHand at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 and launched a Kickstarter campaign this morning.

H2L CEO Kenichiro Iwasaki delivers a pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015.
H2L CEO Kenichiro Iwasaki delivers a pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015.

With a bandage-like device having motion sensor and muscle displacement sensor around the arm, the UnlimitedHand controller allows users to input their hand motions into a game. The device has a functional electrical stimulator that gives users a virtual touch, allowing users to “feel” the impact or the touch of a character in a game.

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Virtual reality games integrating head-mounted displays have been attracting gamers. By integrating with these devices, the UnliitedHand controller gives users a unique experience as seen in the video above.

H2L is exhibiting the product at TechCrunch Disurpt SF 2015, which is taking place today to Wednesday in San Francisco. They started fundraising via the Kickstarter campaign, planning to provide the UnlimitedHand device to gaming companies, gaming developers, and game users.

The product is available $188 to $248 through pre-orders. They will integrate with more content and gaming titles leveraging virtual or augmented reality technologies.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson

Boasting 270K+ clothing items, Japan’s fashion coordination app XZ has raised $1.2M

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Standing Ovation, a startup that operates online fashion community XZ (pronounced as ‘closet’), has fundraised 140 million yen (about $1.2 million) in July from Gumi Ventures, DBJ Capital, iStyle Capital, and several angel investors. This is the second investment following the initial seed investment from Skyland Ventures. Boasting over 55,000 outfit patterns with 270,000 clothing items Many women are complaining that they have no clothing to go in to wear before their closets. But the true problem lies elsewhere. They actually do have plenty of clothes, but they just don’t know how to coordinate what they have. Users of this app register their closets on XZ and just like that, one can find ideas for coordinating one’s own clothing and that is XZ’s biggest allure. These online closets are growing fast, they now have 270,000 registered closets on the app. Also, they have over 55,000 clothing coordination ideas. Some of the users register more than 600 items in their online closets and create over 400 arrangements. One only has to register the items and obtain coordination ideas for the clothing one would never have thought of. Users enjoy it so they register more…

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Standing Ovation, a startup that operates online fashion community XZ (pronounced as ‘closet’), has fundraised 140 million yen (about $1.2 million) in July from Gumi Ventures, DBJ Capital, iStyle Capital, and several angel investors. This is the second investment following the initial seed investment from Skyland Ventures.

Boasting over 55,000 outfit patterns with 270,000 clothing items

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Many women are complaining that they have no clothing to go in to wear before their closets. But the true problem lies elsewhere. They actually do have plenty of clothes, but they just don’t know how to coordinate what they have.

Users of this app register their closets on XZ and just like that, one can find ideas for coordinating one’s own clothing and that is XZ’s biggest allure. These online closets are growing fast, they now have 270,000 registered closets on the app. Also, they have over 55,000 clothing coordination ideas. Some of the users register more than 600 items in their online closets and create over 400 arrangements.

One only has to register the items and obtain coordination ideas for the clothing one would never have thought of. Users enjoy it so they register more items. The company plans to add a variety of functions to enhance its circulation in the future.

Large-scale upgrades and enhanced content

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In order to offer experiments for promoting discovery of new clothing coordination ideas to more users, they are going to add a Q&A section. Also, they will find content with clothing coordination ideas that are buried deep within the system. After the upgrades, they will have 100 clothing coordination ideas that can be provided per registered and posted items.

Furthermore, in September, they are going to release a web version that allows one to browse it on smartphones and PC. By highlighting the content as an allure for people, they create a user flow going from ‘Learning on the web, then trying it on the app’; it is said that they are going to support users with poor clothing coordination skills by providing them with very interesting clothing coordination content, coordination theories and color science information.

As part of their business model, they will enhance their omni-channel cooperation with apparel brand shops. They will go on to provide a B2B solution which enables the ultimate services in shops while developing a virtual system enabling customers to try on new clothes.

Until now, fashion has always been something pushed to users by the media. With the online close and XZ’s growth every day, fashion has taken on a new way of existing through a bottom-up system that begins from interaction among the online closets of individual users.

Translated by Chieko Frost via Mother First
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s Axelspace gets $15M series A funding to boost satellite and remote sensing businesses

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup Axelspace has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms. The company announced today that it has fundraised about 1.8 billion yen ($15 million) in a series A round. This round was led by Global Brain with participation from Energy & Environment Investment, SMBC Venture Capital, SBI Investment, Japan Science and Technology Agency, SKY Perfect JSAT (TSE:9412), Seibu Shinkin Capital, and Mitsu & Co. Axelspace will use the funds to launch three small earth observation satellites and start a remote sensing business in 2017. The company will collaborate with SKY Perfect JSAT to operate satellites, and with Mitsui & Co. to develop satellite image businesses. Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). They will launch three satellites in 2017, and then 10 satellites every year from 2018 to achieve a remote sensing network of 50 satellites circling the globe. Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses. Compared to geostationary satellites at 36,000 kilometers above…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup Axelspace has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms. The company announced today that it has fundraised about 1.8 billion yen ($15 million) in a series A round. This round was led by Global Brain with participation from Energy & Environment Investment, SMBC Venture Capital, SBI Investment, Japan Science and Technology Agency, SKY Perfect JSAT (TSE:9412), Seibu Shinkin Capital, and Mitsu & Co. Axelspace will use the funds to launch three small earth observation satellites and start a remote sensing business in 2017. The company will collaborate with SKY Perfect JSAT to operate satellites, and with Mitsui & Co. to develop satellite image businesses.

Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). They will launch three satellites in 2017, and then 10 satellites every year from 2018 to achieve a remote sensing network of 50 satellites circling the globe. Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses.

Compared to geostationary satellites at 36,000 kilometers above the equator, LEO satellites can capture detailed images and data because of their closer distance to the ground. However, these satellites have a downside in that operators cannot always view the area they want at all times due to the orbital motion. Operating a multitude of satellites can solve the problem, but it will cost more because more satellites will be needed. With a system of small and inexpensive satellites, Axelspace could revolutionize the remote sensing industry.

See also:

Edited by Kurt Hanson

Japan’s Dentsu Ventures invests in SF-based cloud-first phone developer Nextbit

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See the original story in Japanese. Dentsu Ventures, a corporate venture capital of the Japanese ad agency Dentsu (TSE:4324), announced today that it has invested an undisclosed sum in San Francisco-based Nextbit Systems, the developer of cloud-first Android phone Robin. For Dentsu Ventures, this follows investments in MIT-based robotics startup Jibo ($3 million) and NYC-based curated content publishing platform Agolo (undisclosed sum) in August. See also: Japan’s Dentsu Ventures invests in NYC-based automated content creation startup Agolo Nextbit’s Robin smartphone syncs music, movie, app, and photo files in the handset with an online cloud storage without imposing a special operation on the user. The company started a Kickstarter campaign on 1 September, and has fundraised almost double the initial goal of $500,000 with a half month remaining. The investment strategy of Dentsu Ventures is not clear. However, in view of how they have dealt with all three previous cases, they target technology-oriented startups offering great potential of global expansion seeking a seed to series B round investment. Unlike budding corporate venture capital funds where their deal sourcing typically depend on co-investments with other VC firms, the members of Dentsu Ventures are searching the world to find good startups to invest…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Dentsu Ventures, a corporate venture capital of the Japanese ad agency Dentsu (TSE:4324), announced today that it has invested an undisclosed sum in San Francisco-based Nextbit Systems, the developer of cloud-first Android phone Robin. For Dentsu Ventures, this follows investments in MIT-based robotics startup Jibo ($3 million) and NYC-based curated content publishing platform Agolo (undisclosed sum) in August.

See also:

Nextbit’s Robin smartphone syncs music, movie, app, and photo files in the handset with an online cloud storage without imposing a special operation on the user. The company started a Kickstarter campaign on 1 September, and has fundraised almost double the initial goal of $500,000 with a half month remaining.

The investment strategy of Dentsu Ventures is not clear. However, in view of how they have dealt with all three previous cases, they target technology-oriented startups offering great potential of global expansion seeking a seed to series B round investment. Unlike budding corporate venture capital funds where their deal sourcing typically depend on co-investments with other VC firms, the members of Dentsu Ventures are searching the world to find good startups to invest in. Since the acquisition of Aegis Group in 2013, Dentsu’s global sales have exceeded their domestics sales in Japan. Foreign digital agencies in their group, represented by Isobar, may also contribute to intelligence gathering of Dentsu Ventures.

For Nextbit, the latest funds follow $18 million funds from Accel Partners and Google Ventures in January 2014.

Edited by Kurt Hanson

Japan’s Creww partners with Toyota ITC to collect collaboration ideas from startups

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Tokyo-based Creww, the Japanese startup that operates a community platform for startups, announced last week that it has partnered with Toyota InfoTechnology Center (Toyota ITC for short), the R&D arm of Toyota Motor (TSE:7203), and will launch a joint program accepting business collaboration ideas from startups in Japan and the rest of the world. For the R&D company, this is part of their open innovation efforts where corporations explore the potentials of creating businesses with startups. In this program, Toyota ITC wants applicant startups to submit their ideas for providing new car experiences to users at different stages of life or to create new contact points with users through Toyota’s wide range of products. In return for this, Toyota ITC will provide selected startups with assets and resources such as Toyota’s vehicle users, vehicle-related data, vehicles and funds to develop a prototype. Applicant startups have to submit their ideas online between October 13th and 23rd. Based on submitted proposals, selected startups will have a chance to discuss online with the Toyota ITC team to brush up their idea. Following a two-step qualification process by Creww and Toyota ITC, finalists will be announced at yearend and allowed to proceed to the collaborative development phase. Creww has partnered with over 30 Japanese corporations to…

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Tokyo-based Creww, the Japanese startup that operates a community platform for startups, announced last week that it has partnered with Toyota InfoTechnology Center (Toyota ITC for short), the R&D arm of Toyota Motor (TSE:7203), and will launch a joint program accepting business collaboration ideas from startups in Japan and the rest of the world. For the R&D company, this is part of their open innovation efforts where corporations explore the potentials of creating businesses with startups.

In this program, Toyota ITC wants applicant startups to submit their ideas for providing new car experiences to users at different stages of life or to create new contact points with users through Toyota’s wide range of products. In return for this, Toyota ITC will provide selected startups with assets and resources such as Toyota’s vehicle users, vehicle-related data, vehicles and funds to develop a prototype.

Applicant startups have to submit their ideas online between October 13th and 23rd. Based on submitted proposals, selected startups will have a chance to discuss online with the Toyota ITC team to brush up their idea. Following a two-step qualification process by Creww and Toyota ITC, finalists will be announced at yearend and allowed to proceed to the collaborative development phase.

Creww has partnered with over 30 Japanese corporations to date and helped them work with startups in so-called open innovation efforts. As of this month, the company has received more than 600 business proposals from startups in total while over 100 ideas out of these have been adopted by partnering corporations.

Meanwhile, Toyota ITC is known for having been exploring extensively the potentials of collaborative works with startups not only in Japan but also around the world. Our readers may recall that the company held a hackathon event in Tel Aviv last year in association with Japanese startup incubator Samurai Incubate. Toyota Motor, the parent company of Toyota ITC, also collaboratively works with Japanese 3D printing startup Kabuku as to the development process of the Toyota i-Road personal mobility vehicle.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japanese smartglasses launch crowdfunding campaign again, this time for global expansion

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See the original story in Japanese. Our readers may recall that major Japanese optical retailer Paris Miki Holdings (TSE:7455) had launched a crowdfunding campaign for Fun’iki Ambient Glasses, successfully raising more than double the initial goal of 3 million yen ($30,000 at the exchange rate then). The company has just started another crowdfunding campaign with the same product, but this time it is via the global edition of Makuake, a crowdfunding platform of Japan’s internet giant CyberAgent (TSE:4751), with the aim of reaching out to the global audience. Unlike other smartglasses like the Google Glass eyewear which typically projects images on their lenses, Fun’iki Smart Glasses links in on a smartphone to convey various information through light and sound, such as e-mail notifications, social media updates, schedule reminders, stock price movements and weather updates. Powered by compact USB rechargeable Li-ion batteries, multicolored LEDs automatically light up the lenses according to personalized settings. The crowdfunding campaign targets the initial goal of 3.33 million yen, or about $27,600, with 24 days remaining as of this writing. I would like to see how the product can attract global consumers as they have done so well with Japanese campaign backers. Translated by Masaru Ikeda…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Our readers may recall that major Japanese optical retailer Paris Miki Holdings (TSE:7455) had launched a crowdfunding campaign for Fun’iki Ambient Glasses, successfully raising more than double the initial goal of 3 million yen ($30,000 at the exchange rate then). The company has just started another crowdfunding campaign with the same product, but this time it is via the global edition of Makuake, a crowdfunding platform of Japan’s internet giant CyberAgent (TSE:4751), with the aim of reaching out to the global audience.

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Unlike other smartglasses like the Google Glass eyewear which typically projects images on their lenses, Fun’iki Smart Glasses links in on a smartphone to convey various information through light and sound, such as e-mail notifications, social media updates, schedule reminders, stock price movements and weather updates. Powered by compact USB rechargeable Li-ion batteries, multicolored LEDs automatically light up the lenses according to personalized settings.

The crowdfunding campaign targets the initial goal of 3.33 million yen, or about $27,600, with 24 days remaining as of this writing. I would like to see how the product can attract global consumers as they have done so well with Japanese campaign backers.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy

Japan’s smart lock Akerun secures $3.7 million from Jafco, YJ Capital, others

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Photosynth, the Japanese startup developing smart lock solution Akerun, announced today that it has fundraised 450 million yen ($3.7 million) from Jafco, YJ Capital, Gaiax, and Beta Catalyst. The funds will be used to strengthen sales and engineering efforts. Photosynch graduated from the Startup Innovator Program by Japan’s NEDO, or New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The program aims to create global, mega-venture companies within ten years in Japan where R&D-focused manufacturing companies are less likely to be born. Some 420 companies have applied for the program, while 14 companies have been selected to receive support from the organization. Photosynth is the first graduate from the program because startups that receive funds of more than 100 million yen ($830,000) are requested to quit. Photosynth started shipping their flagship smart-lock solution Akerun in April. In July, the company announced a wireless data gateway device called Akerun Remote, which allows users to lock or unlock a key from a feature phone or a desktop web browser as well as the Akerun smartphone app. They also recently started a new service meeting corporate needs. Since the July launch, the new product has attracted many businesses,…

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See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Photosynth, the Japanese startup developing smart lock solution Akerun, announced today that it has fundraised 450 million yen ($3.7 million) from Jafco, YJ Capital, Gaiax, and Beta Catalyst. The funds will be used to strengthen sales and engineering efforts.

Photosynch graduated from the Startup Innovator Program by Japan’s NEDO, or New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The program aims to create global, mega-venture companies within ten years in Japan where R&D-focused manufacturing companies are less likely to be born. Some 420 companies have applied for the program, while 14 companies have been selected to receive support from the organization. Photosynth is the first graduate from the program because startups that receive funds of more than 100 million yen ($830,000) are requested to quit.

Photosynth started shipping their flagship smart-lock solution Akerun in April. In July, the company announced a wireless data gateway device called Akerun Remote, which allows users to lock or unlock a key from a feature phone or a desktop web browser as well as the Akerun smartphone app. They also recently started a new service meeting corporate needs.

Since the July launch, the new product has attracted many businesses, mainly co-working spaces, restaurants, diners, etc. Users will be charged on a monthly basis, helping the company pile up sales through the subscription-based business model. That’s why the company will focus on acquiring business users.

The company recently introduced the handsfree unlock function, which allows users to automatically unlock a key when close to a door. Based on user feedback, they will keep improving and enhancing the functionality of the product because, which is their strength.

Photosynth is taking a lean startup approach, a rare case for a hardware startup, however it will be interesting to see how the company develops the smart lock market from here.

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Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson

Turning ideas into objects, Japan’s STARted matches makers to over 200 factories

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See the original story in Japanese. STARted is an online platform that turns your uploaded illustrations into clothes and other items. Launched in September 2014, STARted has grown in popularity for making it possible for users without technical skills to make their own personal fashion brands just with an illustration and a small package fee. Last week the service underwent a major update and has now added production of accessories, clothing, made-to-order, and original goods to the line-up for individual users. They’ve also released special menu’s geared toward corporations and shops. Upon making their services available for individual use, they recognized that there was also considerable demand from businesses as well which led to this recent service expansion. By bringing together a network of around 200 factories, they are able to semi-automatically chart to optimal production route, from design and materials to manufacturing. The process of apparel production, from arrangement of fabric, making of paper patterns, cutting, sewing, manufacturing, and finishing touches (pressing, hanging, etc.), there are quite a lot of steps involved. Apparel manufacturers, however, typically specialize in production of a certain item or type of material according to the limitations of their machinery and the nature of the…

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See the original story in Japanese.

STARted is an online platform that turns your uploaded illustrations into clothes and other items. Launched in September 2014, STARted has grown in popularity for making it possible for users without technical skills to make their own personal fashion brands just with an illustration and a small package fee.

Last week the service underwent a major update and has now added production of accessories, clothing, made-to-order, and original goods to the line-up for individual users. They’ve also released special menu’s geared toward corporations and shops.

Upon making their services available for individual use, they recognized that there was also considerable demand from businesses as well which led to this recent service expansion. By bringing together a network of around 200 factories, they are able to semi-automatically chart to optimal production route, from design and materials to manufacturing.

STARted-chart

The process of apparel production, from arrangement of fabric, making of paper patterns, cutting, sewing, manufacturing, and finishing touches (pressing, hanging, etc.), there are quite a lot of steps involved. Apparel manufacturers, however, typically specialize in production of a certain item or type of material according to the limitations of their machinery and the nature of the production process. Of course the scale of production lots will also vary according to the factory.

In addition, even just with ordering one sweater for example, the sewing machines used in each factory are different meaning the finished product will be slightly different, so it’s necessary to choose the appropriate factory. In the past however, orderers had to work out by themselves the complicated process of finding the most appropriate path of production. Since STARted has created a network of independent factories, not only factory-client matching, but also high quality production from single items to large shipments are possible at a low cost.

Yuji Fujii, CEO of Bandersnatch, the company operating the STARted platform, explained:

STARted isn’t just matching brands to factories. We’re drawing on our large database of factories to see how they fit together, and thereby determine what is the most appropriate manufacturing method for each item.

This system also makes it possible for factories to receive jobs for orders that have been matched to their skillset, reducing their downtime.

For brands that have so far focused mainly on women’s clothing but want to try entering the men’s fashion market with a specific item, or those who want to are looking to break into the apparel field, it’s seems like this will significantly lower the hurdles. I’m very curious and will be following closely to see what kind of impact STARted’s private and corporate aimed services will have on the apparel business world.

Translated by Connor Kirk
Edited by Masaru Ikeda

Japan’s Lapieces app curates must-visit spots from locals and travelers around the planet

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See the original story in Japanese. Lapieces is a startup based out of Menlo Park, the heart of Silicon Valley. The company launched a mobile app under the same name for iOS in Japan and the US. The app is available on the iTunes AppStore for these two markets. The Lapieces app allows locals and travelers to post details about their favorite spots in their neighborhood or the destinations they have visited. By handpicking favorite choices from these posts, other users can create their own list of so-called Gathered Pieces consisting of destination profiles and traveler maps. For selected destinations in the Gathered Pieces list, profiles and maps are saved in users’ local handset so that they can view and confirm these information without subscribing to roaming data when traveling abroad. The company is rooted from Tokyo-based startup Solt launched in Tokyo in November 2013. While Solt had been operating a travel-focused social network platform called Clip since last year, Lapieces is pivoted from that upon launching a new company in the US with a view to global expansion. The founders are CEO Masamichi Yamazaki (formerly with Recruit), COO Yuya Tanji (formerly with Abeam Consulting), and CTO Kai Takagi (formerly…

lapieces_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

Lapieces is a startup based out of Menlo Park, the heart of Silicon Valley. The company launched a mobile app under the same name for iOS in Japan and the US. The app is available on the iTunes AppStore for these two markets.

The Lapieces app allows locals and travelers to post details about their favorite spots in their neighborhood or the destinations they have visited. By handpicking favorite choices from these posts, other users can create their own list of so-called Gathered Pieces consisting of destination profiles and traveler maps. For selected destinations in the Gathered Pieces list, profiles and maps are saved in users’ local handset so that they can view and confirm these information without subscribing to roaming data when traveling abroad.

The company is rooted from Tokyo-based startup Solt launched in Tokyo in November 2013. While Solt had been operating a travel-focused social network platform called Clip since last year, Lapieces is pivoted from that upon launching a new company in the US with a view to global expansion. The founders are CEO Masamichi Yamazaki (formerly with Recruit), COO Yuya Tanji (formerly with Abeam Consulting), and CTO Kai Takagi (formerly with NEC Central Research Laboratories).

As an immediate goal, Lapieces aims to acquire 8.3 million downloads and 530,000 user-generated articles of must-visit spots by August 2016. They are bootstrapping — using their funds — but look into partnering with organizations or businesses in the tourism industry, seeing funding from investors by year’s end.

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Edited by Kurt Hanson

Japan’s wearable smart-toy startup Moff raises $1.3M to expand to new markets

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See the original story in Japanese. Tokyo-based Moff, the Japanese startup developing sensor-embedded wearable smart-toy Moff Band, announced today that it has fundraised 160 million yen ($1.3 million) from Japanese gaming giant Bandai Namco Entertainment (TSE:3832), mobile gaming developer Orso, investment company TomyK, and other angel investors. Since its launch in October 2013, the company has fundraised 210 million yen. Moff began selling the Moff Band device on Amazon.com last fall, attracting many users in Japan and the US. The device adopts the company’s original posture recognition and data analysis technologies, while the company has been planning and developing the active gamification platform that converts actions into user experiences such as emitting a sound based on a user’s action. Moff will use the funds to strengthen its structure to focus on developing the gamification platform, users’ action- and activity-based analysis technologies using artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as business development with partnering companies. Coinciding with the funds, Moff established a wholly-owned subsidiary called Moff USA in the US. Albert Chu, former vice president of Apple, AT&T, and Access, was named as CEO of the US subsidiary for business development in the US. In a previous interview with The…

moff

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Moff, the Japanese startup developing sensor-embedded wearable smart-toy Moff Band, announced today that it has fundraised 160 million yen ($1.3 million) from Japanese gaming giant Bandai Namco Entertainment (TSE:3832), mobile gaming developer Orso, investment company TomyK, and other angel investors. Since its launch in October 2013, the company has fundraised 210 million yen.

Moff began selling the Moff Band device on Amazon.com last fall, attracting many users in Japan and the US. The device adopts the company’s original posture recognition and data analysis technologies, while the company has been planning and developing the active gamification platform that converts actions into user experiences such as emitting a sound based on a user’s action.

Moff will use the funds to strengthen its structure to focus on developing the gamification platform, users’ action- and activity-based analysis technologies using artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as business development with partnering companies.

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From the left: Moff USA CEO Albert B. Chu, Moff CEO Akinori Takahagi

Coinciding with the funds, Moff established a wholly-owned subsidiary called Moff USA in the US. Albert Chu, former vice president of Apple, AT&T, and Access, was named as CEO of the US subsidiary for business development in the US.

In a previous interview with The Bridge, Moff CEO Akinori Takahagi said that there is huge potential for the smart-toy market in the US. Hence, the establishment of the US-based subsidiary is a natural move for the startup.

Moff said that they will focus on inventing gamified fitness solutions by developing sensor devices and the gamification platform, looking to expand beyond the smart-toy vertical to vaster markets.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by Kurt Hanson