WISH 2009 Demo Event In Tokyo: 14 Japanese Web Startups Present Their Services

I attended WISH 2009 [JP] on Friday, a newly launched web industry event offering fourteen Japanese startups the chance to demo their wares onstage to a panel of judges and an audience of 400 people. The event was held in Tokyo and organized by online marketing company Agile Media Network (Japan’s answer to Federated Media).

A service called Joker Racer emerged as the big winner of the evening, but the other presentations weren’t too shabby either, with some of them earning special jury awards from various Japanese media. A good number of the fourteen services are available in English (or will be soon). Here’s a rundown on all of the companies that presented at WISH 2009:

jokerracer_logoJoker Racer (Winner: Grand Prix and Agile Media Network Award)
Joker Racer lets you remote-control model cars via your browser window, from anywhere in the world and in real-time. The Linux-powered and Wi-Fi-enabled model cars are equipped with GPS, a mini Linux server and a web cam mounted on top of them. It will even be possible to control the cars with the iPhone.

You can already register on the site but have to be patient until the official launch on August 26 when you want to take a spin. More videos can be viewed here.

cerevo_logo Cerevo [JP] (Winner: Impress Award)
Cerevo presented an early version of a digital camera designed completely in-house that’s supposed to play with a photo sharing service the company is working on concurrently. The Wi-Fi-enabled “Cerevo cam” automatically uploads pictures to company servers without users needing to do anything. Pictures can then easily shared with friends (via cell phone email, for example) or uploaded to Flickr, Twitter and other sites. Expect both the Japanese and international version to launch probably later this year (read more about Cerevo here).

[JP] (Winner: CNET Japan Award)
Action*Pad is designed to be a simple to-do list that can be accessed by a group of people over the web (both fixed and mobile). Users just need to type in the URL and a password (registration isn’t necessary) to start getting things done. The service hasn’t officially launched yet.

dressphile_logoDressphile [JP] (Winner: Nikkei BP Award)
Dressphile is a combination of an offline and online business. Shopping addicts suffering from a lack of space in their apartments can either send in excess clothing or have it picked up. Dressphile will then store the clothes in its own storage facility at a monthly rate of $3 per item.

The company also offers a cleaning service and online database of your clothes, which are each pictured in a grid view. Dressphile is considering to let users choose to open these personal “online closets” to other people to sell off unneeded clothes that way.

lang_8_logoLang-8 (Winner: IT Media Award)
Lang-8 is a language exchange site with a social networking slant that’s been established in 2007. Available in 14 different languages, Lang-8 focuses on improving the writing skills in the language you study. Blog entries written in a foreign language can be viewed and checked by native speakers of that language. Read more about Lang-8 here.

xtel_logo_corporate xtel (Winner: Gizmodo Japan Award)
xtel is the name of a development support system for “ubiquitous contents” provided by Keio University in Tokyo. A total of four modules were presented: MOXA (a small I/O board), Talktic (compiler library for the development of applications on MOXA), Entity Collaborator (Java-based network to create network applications) and LIFE (server solution).

Tons of cool stuff the university created can be found in this bilingual PDF.

conit_logo_newCONIT iPhone Content Payment System
CONIT presented a content payment system for the iPhone that should be of interest to many of the iPhone developers out there. The company has developed a solution that reduces costs for those developers offering subscriptions and and in-app purchases with their apps (new and existing ones). The system eliminates the need for setting up a content server. More in the English presentation embedded below.

yonda4Yonda4 [JP]
Yonda4 is a service that keeps track of books and comics you’ve read using Twitter. Just type the title of the book and add “@yonda4” to the tweet (it’s also possible to squeeze in a mini review). You can then access the Yonda4 website to see a list of your books and find users who have a similar taste. Android users can scan the barcode of a book and tweet its title instantly with Yonda4’s Android app.

kokuban_in_logoKokuban.in [JP]
Kokuban.in is a Flash-based “social drawing” service that lets users create images on a virtual blackboard with a mouse, “recording” the process from start to finish. The service launched last year, and there are now hundreds of thousands of animated clips on the site. CEO Yoshinori Munehara mainly talked about a new system that’s supposed to keep “impolite” comments on kokuban.in under control.

user_insightUser Insight [JP]
User Insight is a web marketing tool that analyzes user behavior on a given site and visualizes the data collected with a heat map. The tool is supposed to answer the question what type of user (sex, age etc.) shows interests in which pages and which parts of those pages are clicked at the most. User Insight will go live next month, with versions in English and Chinese currently being in development.

sonybanklogoSony Bank’s “Jinseitsuuchou/Bankbook Of Your Life” [JP]
Sony Bank (an online bank operated by a Sony Japan subsidiary) presented a personal finance management system called Jinseitsuuchou, which roughly means “bankbook of your life” in Japanese. Just like the many other online finance trackers out there, the Sony tool helps users keep track of their personal expenses and budgets.

30min_logo30min. [JP]
30min. is a location-based city guide portal that scrapes information on restaurants, shops and other service providers from the blogosphere. Based on where you are, 30min. delivers information on locations accessible within 30 minutes, enhanced by statements taken from blogs (currently, a whopping 8,000 blogs written by individuals are indexed). There’s also a free 30min. iPhone app [JP, iTunes link].

carwings_nissanNissan Carwings [JP]
A Nissan representative summarized the Web-related strengths of Carwings, Nissan’s (still) Japan-only and high-spec car navigation system: Display and text-to-speech conversion of RSS feeds, integration of Google Calendar, display of Google Maps information, integration of gas price comparison portal gogo.gs [JP] etc.

link_knowledgeLink Knowledge [JP]
Link Knowledge is what appears to be a pretty powerful SaaS solution with a focus on CRM and SFA (sales force automation). The key idea is to scan information from business cards and feed it into a database, which can be accessed by Link Knowledge clients, i.e. direct marketers or sales people, to systematically identify potential customers.