TechCrunch Japan's Tokyo Camp: 12 Startups Demo Their Wares

techcrunch_japan_event_tokyo_campFollowing last week’s startup contest WISH 2009, Japan just got another event that gave twelve selected tech companies the chance to demo their web services, apps and tools (almost all of which are thankfully available in English). This Friday, around 130 guests attended Tokyo Camp [JP], a demo event organized by TechCrunch Japan.

The occasion: The blog, which is one of Japan’s biggest and mainly translates articles from TechCrunch into Japanese, is under new management (by DESIGN IT!, LLC., a Sociomedia (Japan’s anwer to Adaptive Path) group company).

Here are my thumbnail sketches of all of the twelve demos I saw at Tokyo Camp.

ivread_logo1I’vRead by Akky Akimoto
Officially launched at Tokyo Camp, I’vRead keeps a record of all books you’ve read via your Twitter account and lets you find users with a similar taste in books. All you need to do is to type the title of the book (or its ISBN or Amazon URL), add “@ivread” to the tweet and (as an option) write what you thought of it. Each of these tweets will then be automatically added to your personal user page on the I’vRead site (you don’t need to register at the site itself, being a Twitter user is enough). Look here for an example.

dango wants to empower online game creators worldwide to focus more on the development of content and less on the things they have to deal with after a game is finished, especially the distribution problem. The company of the same name offers a comprehensive, integrated framework called “dango-PLAY”. The system delivers online games to a number of social networks (i.e. Facebook or Japan’s Mixi) and dango’s homepage itself, using a single program and source code (dango is open source [JP]).

dango-Play aims at creating an integrated ecosystem for online games by matching users, linking to other games based on the framework, providing SMS services, managing user ID data, freeing developers from tracking user behavior etc. etc.


One of the first games that’s been released based on the dango system is Facebook app “meromero park”, an ultra-cute mix between a social network, a virtual world and a pet-rearing game (the web version has already gained massive popularity in Japan and Taiwan). The Facebook app is available in English and French.

Jin-Magic TCP Traffic Optimization Technology by Akira Jinzaki
A veteran network technology guru and a Chief Technologist in Residence at Breakthrough Partners, Akira Jinzaki has single-handedly programmed what appears to be a powerful TCP traffic controller with the potential to change the way Internet traffic is currently being managed (99% of the Internet traffic is TCP-based). Jinzaki says his Jin-Magic software manages TCP traffic in a cost-effective way that is transparent to the network to get the most out of the exiting plumbing.

The software can sit anywhere in the network between the two end-points. WiMAX was used for the demo. Reception in the demo room was 2 to 4 bars out of 6 and TCP transfer rates were at best 1Mbps (with standard set-up). Turn on the Jin-magic on the server side configured to maximize TCP flow, the rates climbed up in the 4Mbps to 7Mbps range. The technology allows providers to maximize service for their investments. It may enable mobile data providers to serve 2 to 3 times more customers with uninterrupted video bandwidth with the existing infrastructure. Jin-Magic can be ported to smartphones, too.

pekay_little_author_logoPeKay’s Little Author
PeKay’s Little Author is a Facebook application that lets users create a graphic story using original characters on-screen and print it out in the form of a picture storybook. Alternatively, the virtual storybook (example) can be shared with others online or turned into a web greeting card.

PeKay’s Little Author is the brainchild of a well-known Japanese artist. The video below shows how the app works:

ixedit_sociomedia_logoIxEdit by Sociomedia
Launched at Tokyo Camp, IxEdit is a JavaScript-based “interaction design” tool for web applications that can be used from within the browser. Web designers can use IxEdit to practice DOM-scripting without having to code anything. The tool allows for elements of web pages that require “interaction”, i.e. pull-down menus, to be created with basic knowledge about HTML and CSS (no JavaScript coding is required).

IxEdit can be downloaded for free. View sample elements here.

universal_robot_logoMobile Vein Authentication Technology by Universal Robot [JP]
Universal Robot’s compact mobile vein authentication software (40KB core module) can be installed on cell phones, for example, and uses the camera to scan your wrist vein for identification. The technology seems to have many advantages: It works fast (I tried it myself), it’s completely software-based, compatible to a variety of CPUs and operating systems, usable for persons doing hard manual labor (who can’t use fingerprints), and most importantly extremely accurate (the company speaks of a false accept ratio of 0.001% and of a false reject ratio of less than 0.1%). The award-winning software works even with cameras with a 1MP sensor or lower.


kuchikomi_logoKuchikomi@Sousenkyo [JP] by Hottolink
Tokyo-based Hottolink has shown a self-developed word-of-mouth analysis tool (dubbed “Word Of Mouth@General Election Of The Lower House” in Japanese) that’s supposedly able to predict the results of the general election of Japan’s Lower House (according to CEO Koki Uchiyama) that took place just today.

The prediction tool analyzes what’s being written in Japan’s blogosphere about political topics dynamically (it updates its projected results daily). Uchiyama said internal tests with previous elections proved to be very promising. We’ll know if the prediction model really works on Monday morning Japanese time after the election results are official (I will deliver an update here later).

Update: The prediction proved to be pretty accurate. HottoLink projected the winning party will get 257 seats in Japan’s lower house (it received 221) and the runner-up will get 40 (it received 64 in the end). Accuracy for the election as a whole stands at a good 80.33%.

LogEarth requires a GPS logger or an iPhone GPS logger app to work. The service then records where you move around in the world (provided there’s a GPS signal) and visualizes your route with the help of Google Maps. The log data can be posted on blogs, too.

augmented_reality_brothers_logoThe 3 Augmented Reality Brothers [JP]
The 3 Augmented Reality Brothers aren’t really brothers, but their augmented reality project certainly had the highest show value at Tokyo Camp. Watch the Japanese video below to get an idea of what these guys are doing (their Vimeo channel is here).

AR3Bros episode-i | twitter & AR from ar3bros on Vimeo.

dodaii_logododaii by Feynman
dodaii is an in-app purchase management ASP created for iPhone devs. The system handles the payment records for companies offering apps in the App Store for a fee. More information on dodaii can be found in this English PDF and here. dodaii is currently in closed beta.

kanshin_kuukan_logoKanshin Kuukan [JP]
Kanshin Kuukan is a community site that helps its members find relevant products, restaurants, movies, songs etc. based on recommendations from users. The company of the same name showed a demo video of an iPhone app that scans the Twittersphere for relevant tweets and is scheduled for release in December (Japanese only).

Manetron is an iPhone app that puts a Mellotron (an electro-mechanical, vintage keyboard) in your pocket. The app is available in the App Store for $2.99. Watch the video below to see and hear how Manetron works.

Many thanks to all attendees and demo companies who helped making Tokyo Camp a blast. And sorry to everyone who didn’t make it on the guest list this time (just like last time, we were overwhelmed by the response), but another event like this might happen again in the near future. Arigatou gozaimasu!

More pictures from the event were made by alpha blogger Masaki Ishitani and TechCrunch Japan’s translator Umihiko Namekawa.