#Asia #Japan How Japan’s forgotten past can stop IoT’s dystopian future

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Technology is global, but ideas are local.

The same IoT technology is being deployed all over the world, but a small Japanese startup might be who helps us make sense of it all.

There is amazing work being done in user experience design, but most designers are operating with the contract of keeping users engaged. This is a fundamental shift from the traditional user-centered and functional design approaches.

Today we sit down with Kaz Oki, founder of Mui Labs, and we talk about user design can actually improve our lives and help us disengage.

We also talk about the challenges of getting VCs to invest in hardware startups, why Kyoto might be Japan’s next innovation hub, and what it takes for a startup to successfully spin out of a Japanese company

It’s a great discussion, and I think you will really enjoy it.

Show Notes

How Japanese design philosophy informs user interface design
How UI design got so bad

Who are the early technology adopters in Japan
Why VCs hesitate to invest in hardware companies
How to pitch corporate management to let you spin out a startup
Why you should run a Kickstarter even when you have corporate backing
Why a major manufacturer decided to outsource innovative manufacturing
The secret to making corporate spinouts work in Japan
How to convince Japanese employees to join a spinout
How to get middle-management on-board with corporate spinouts
What changed in Kyoto to make it one of Japan’s best startup hubs

Links from the Founder

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mui Labs
Check out the Mui Kickstarter
Keep up-to-date on the Mui Blog
Check them out on Facebook
Follow Kaz on Twitter @mui_labo

Leave a comment
Transcript
Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs.

I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me.

If you’re a fan of Disrupting Japan, you know that I have a strong dislike for attempts to make Japan sound too exotic and this goes in both directions. On one side, we have consultants who claim that Japanese business practices are so unique, arcane, and confusing that the only way westerners can possibly understand them is by paying large sums of money to consultants such as themselves.

And on the other side, of course, we have people insisting that foreigners can’t really understand Japanese anime without a thorough and nuanced knowledge of Japanese language and history.

It’s all utter nonsense. I mean, there are differences, of course, and those differences should be acknowledged and respected, but whether an idea is coming from Japan or America, or Germany, one true measure of the value of that idea is its universality. The most important achievements might emerge out of cultural biases or sensitivities but they address something universally true, something deeply human.

Today, we sit down with Kaz Oki of Mui Labs and we’re going to talk about Mui’s radical rethinking of how we should interact with computers and the different contexts for that interaction. The Mui itself is a tactile and visual user interface that literally fades into the furniture when you’re not using it.

Now, this interface is clearly informed by Japanese aesthetics. In fact, some of the deeper issues Kaz and I talked about kept bubbling up in my mind in the week following the interview, and Kaz and I are going to do a follow-up later over a couple of beers in Kyoto, but there’s nothing about the Mui design that looks particularly Japanese. It’s tapping into a deeper and more human design sense, and that’s far more interesting.

Oh, and Mui Labs also represents a very rare kind of startup, a creature far, far more rare than unicorns. Mui Labs is an innovative and successful Japanese corporate spin-out. We talk about how Kaz made that work, his valiant battles against multiple layers of middle management, and how he managed to recruit top startup talent into that company,

from Disrupting Japan: Startups and Innovation in Japan https://ift.tt/2QhwxSx

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