Making an Idea into a Device. A Quest for a New Communication Style.


I got a marvelous opportunity to look back at my background and my philosophy at TEDx Kyoto 2013 (theme — Ideas Worth Spreading).

I was reconnected again to my strong interest to “connect, communicate, and share.” It seems to be something innate or inherent, and much deeply rooted then I had previously thought. There’s also this ridiculously pure, straight, direct, raw, essential words I’d like to communicate! (I can’t stop these instincts)

After realizing these thoughts, I recognized my zealous desire to contribute to creating a world where people open themselves up freely and share their true selves with no limitation.

Probably technology, finance, business model, entrepreneurial spirit, developer mind, all these parts of myself are mere tools and methods to fulfill on my instinctive aspirations. They are just means to an end.

Incidentally, there are two major problems facing wearable devices in order for it to be successful.

Communication has always been an issue for humankind

First is the “morning problem”. Can it be worn every morning before going out? Another is the “evening problem”. Can the device be charged consistently every night?

It’s not possible for it to be a lasting product if people won’t wear it without thinking in the morning. And it’s not sustainable if it can’t be charged every night.

Either way if it stops at the level of “now it’s wearable” then it can’t actually be a finalized product. There’s no life to the product if it can’t be charged every night and worn every morning as a habit. It’s a critical topic for wearable devices. It’s not something that could be overcome easily but it’s an exciting challenge.I’d like to reiterate, what it means to “make an idea into a device?” Pondering on this topic will get down to the essence of wearable device as a daily tool.

Looking at wearable devices from the perspective of “making an idea into a device,” for myself, it is the same as “inquiring into a new communication style.” In essence for Telepathy it’s aiming for a rebirth or a new style of the traditional phone. For example it is a communication device which allows sharing of experiences and emotions by “accompanying visuals with words.”

Google Glass has achieved a certain degree of perfection as an information-processing tool. And as a computer that could be worn, its design has also attained a certain level of excellence. It’s easy to imagine that the development of the Glass has gone through an efficient and logical process.

Telephone revolutionized communication in the 19th century

However, would computers that are worn be more successful than smartphones as an information-processing device? I personally think that it’s much more likely for it to be accepted as a communication device.

A device that could transform human communication is desirable. Because it is what computer have been doing all along. The growth and development of communication should have been the apex that personal computers were aiming towards.

But for wearable devices to mature into a communication device, it requires a refined design, excellent application, and optimized to be user friendly for its core purpose.

A big paradigm is it needs to be a lot simpler and less stressful then the current smartphones. For example, it needs to operate much more simpler and comfortably then the much talked about SmartWatch.

In the wearable market, good ideas and concepts are a given. Now it’s at the stage of how to finalize those ideas as a finished product and to deliver it to the end users. I think it will go beyond being a gadget that’s targeted towards the geek crowds. Just like recent hiring of Tiffany’s former CEO by Apple, it will be necessary to build a consumer brand that appeals to “the satisfaction of the soul.

1985: Apple’s first wearable device design mockup

Current reality is that web and app communication is evolving and going beyond the realm of language.

Communication is about sharing and exchanging of feelings and senses, participating in shared mood and situations. Wearable is perfectly matched for this type of sensory usage as a device expanding the body that increases intimacy.

Because it’s a computer that is worn, real time communication tools like LINE and FaceTime’s world vision could be experienced with enhanced richness and intimacy. The current Apple commercial is expressive enough to be used as a commercial for a wearable device.

Namely to share themselves openly to the public might be a big obstacle for most users. The world might not be forgiving yet for people to openly share their emotions. SnapChat and LINE has accomplished communication frequency and velocity because it’s limited to select close friends. In this aspect, depending on the idea, wearable devices have a huge latent potential that could rewrite people’s lifestyle and social interactions.

That’s why wearable is interesting! By altering people’s experiences it holds the possibility to completely evolve human communication styles. For this reason it will require a more flexible and dynamic mindset compared to developing apps for smartphones. “Making an idea into a device”  — to me it means how can people’s “connection, communication, sharing” be changed by wearing a digital computer in the real world.

Written by

takahito iguchi

Telepathy CEO

Published January 4, 2014

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