#Asia #Japan 81: Japan’s Laundry Folding Robot Is Taking Over Your Closet – Seven Dreamers


It’s often surprising to discover which problems are hard for AI. We hear stories about artificial intelligence being better than the most skilled humans at go, chess, Jeopardy, and better than many at driving a car, and we assume that computers will be as smart as we are very soon.

Then we discover how hard it is for AI to fold the laundry.

Shin Sakane and his team at Seven Dreamers have been working on this particular problem for 12 years, and they are now rolling out the first commercially available laundry-folding robot. They will be first to the global market and have secured a production partnership with Panasonic.

Shin and I talk a lot about AI and innovation in Japan, and also cover his rather unusual corse to innovation here. Seven Dreamers is not your typical venture backed startup, and they might just provide a blueprint for innovation that many existing Japanese firms can follow.

It’s a great interview, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Show Notes for Startups

Why AI can drive a car but not fold socks
Why starting a company in Japan is different today
Shin’s formula  for developing innovative products
How to work with large Japanese companies
Why the future of laundry is more disrupting than you imagine
Why big data wants to hack your washing machine
The need to go global quickly
Can Japan once again lead the world in AI

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Laundroid
Friend Shin  on Facebook
Seven Dreamers Homepage
Find out more about Laundroid on Facebook or Twitter
Nastent website
Find out more about Nastent on Facebook or Twitter
The carbon-fiber golf shafts on the Web and on Facebook

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Transcript from Japan

Disrupting Japan, episode 81.

Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.

You know, the term artificial intelligence is thrown around far too loosely these days. Every start-up using decision trees, Bayesian algorithms, or the simplest machine learning techniques, label themselves as world leaders in AI. Now there’s no question that projects like Google’s driverless cars and IBM’s Watson have pushed the limits of what’s possible, and have introduced astounding innovations in AI over the past few years. But sometimes it’s surprising to take a look at the kinds of problems that are extremely difficult for AI. It turns out that folding laundry is one of those problems.

Today we sit down with Shin Sakane, CEO of Seven Dreamers and inventor of the Laundroid. The first commercially available fully automatic laundry folding robot. We talk a lot about AI in general. And the importance and the risk of attacking the really hard problems. And what he and his firm had to go through to make Laundroid a reality. It’s also worth noting that Seven Dreamers is not your typical venture back start-up. And Shin and I talk a lot about the role that mid-size companies have to play in kick-starting the Japanese economy and returning Japan to the global leader in innovation she was in the 60s and 70s. But you know, Shin tells that story better than I can. So let’s hear from our sponsor and get right to the interview.


Tim: So I’m sitting here with Shin Sakane of Seven Dreamers, and we’ve been bumping into each other for a long time now.

Shin: Right.

Tim: So thanks for finally making time and sitting down with me.

Shin: Thank you very much for coming.

Tim: We’re here to talk a lot about the Laundroid. Now it’s a robot that folds clothes, which I guess is the simple way of explaining it, but why don’t you tell us more about what it is.

Shin: Okay. We’ve been working on this project for the last 12 years almost.

Tim: Wow.

Shin: Yeah. We started back in 2005. This robot really folds daily life clothes and separate by categories or by family members.

Tim: Oh, okay.

from Disrupting Japan http://ift.tt/2nyGob0

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