Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
This week, well, they say dancing around screaming “I TOLD YOU SO!” isn’t very polite, but we will because SCHAFT Robotics' co-founder publicly declared J-startup culture moribund and is building his own investment fund, Nintendo pwned some patent trolls, and maybe, just maybe, SONY LIVES!
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Welcome to Japanese Technology from the Future Friday!
It’s already Friday west of the international dateline – here in Japan, it’s totally the future. The weekly JTFF is our somewhat Technosnarky coverage of 2-5 particularly important, specifically Japan-related tech stories. Get yourself hip to the micro & macro that went down while North America was sleeping – check in with Akihabara News every Friday morning and BOOM! Ahead of the game, you win.
:: JTFF – January 10, 2014 ::
• SCHAFT Robotics Co-Founder Founds a Startup Fund
And. That. Is. Awesome. Anyone reading an article called “Japanese Technology from the Future Friday” is probably aware of SCHAFT Robotics’ dominating win in last month’s DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. With an impressive legacy sitting underneath SCHAFT, a lot of insiders expected the team to do very well, but no one expected the powerful, comprehensive beatdown they tossed the rest of the world’s finest humanoid platforms. But here’s the thing: the bulk of the funding for SCHAFT’s unique, proprietary robot and software development - yeah, that didn’t come from Japan. Because, although it is improving and there are promising signs, it’s clear that Japan’s startup culture remains developmentally disabled. Not only did SCHAFT’s initial funding come from the U.S. government, about two weeks before the DRC Trials, they were bought up by Google. One could also ask Takahito Iguchi, founder of Google Glass competitor Telepathy, about his high-profile venture's $5 million investment from… oh yeah, also from Americans. Anyway, you old guys in Japan with all the money, maybe time to wake up? Or… you know, don’t. Guys like SCHAFT’s Takashi Kato and a legion of foreign investors will be happy to come snatch up Japan’s best and brightest for you.
[SCHAFT CO-FOUNDER’S J-STARTUP VENTURE - BLOOMBERG]
• Nintendo Destroys Patent Trolls and then Buys Their Stuff (HA!)
Patent trolls are the most unwelcome and hideous smear of epiphytic snotmold ever hippo-flopped out upon the tech world. They deserve merciless destruction, and finally, some heroes over at Nintendo have dished some out. Not only did they win the suit and appeal brought by IA Labs, makers of nottadamnthing, after IA Labs didn’t pay damages awarded Nintendo, their stuff was put up for sale - and Nintendo bought their patent portfolio. This really is a victory for humanity.
[NINTENDO BUYS TROLL’S PATENTS - GAMESPOT]
• Like Us, The Verge Says Sony Might be Creeping Back to Relevance
As we mentioned in a recent JT Tech Show podcast. And hey, with their bold new Core lifelogging initiative, making with the amazing short-throw 4K projectors, sellin’ and innovatin’ in the PS4 ecosystem, and managing to stuff all the guts from their huge flagship smartphone into a much smaller, competes-with-iPhone package, we’ve all got a point. Perhaps Sony, at long last, has finally realized that focusing on squirting out 47 VAIO models every year and refusing to abandon the nobody-wants-it PSP might actually be just as dumb as it sounds. Good. Go, Sony, GO! (but don't think we've forgotten about the robots - forgiveness for that sin is a long wait for a train not coming).
[MAYBE SONY’S GETTING ITS GROOVE BACK - THE VERGE]
That was the JTFF, and live from the future – that is all.
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Tokyo at Night via PhotoEverywhere.