Google Glass warned to look out for Japan


Seiko Epson is creating a new form of wearable computer technology – similar to that under development by Google Glass – but which will be ‘far superior’ to the US-based multinational company’s product, the Japanese corporation’s president told EURACTIV in an interview.

Minoru Usui – in Brussels last week to launch new technology relating to the company’s traditional precision printing business – said the new ideas would feed into its Moverio smart glass technology and radically improve it.

The defiant statement comes as both Google and Epson seek to move the hi-tech revolution into a new era by creating  mass-market ‘wearable’ computers.

“The era where you can get whatever information you want, wherever you go, is definitely coming to the world and Epson is very enthusiastic about creating these so-called wearable products,” Usui said.

Watch out for the Japanese!

He said that Google Glass had “made a lot of headlines”, conceding that “they have been very innovative and are trying to open up a new market.”

But he differentiated Epson’s Moverio smart-glasses – early versions of which are already on the market – saying: “Our approach is very different from theirs. We are going to go about this by refining our core compact energy saving technologies and we will create products from these core devices ourselves, and these will be highly original products based on our own technologies.”

“We are going to leverage our core technologies to create something that is far superior to what they can do, so please watch out for Epson!” he warned.

Last month (16 September) Google gave a peek preview of its in-development 'Glass' technology to journalists in Brussels, though the company claims the device remains several years from market launch.

It is being developed by Google's secretive 'X' facility which has worked on other futuristic technologies such as driverless cars, and is still in development with a cohort of early-adopters in the US. These "explorers" as the company dubs them, are trying out the machine and giving feedback to Google on how it can be improved.

Essential to create what cannot be reproduced

Elsewhere in the interview Usui looked forward to the resumption later this month of talks on the proposed Free Trade Agreement between Japan and the EU, saying that it was essential that intellectual property rights formed a fundamental part of any deal.

Asked if a resurgence in the Japanese technology sector was on its way – following the country’s failure to maintain its leading role in global electronics exports established during the 1970s and 1980s – Usui was frank about why Japan had dropped back.

“Many of the products that developed from Japan became commoditised and China and Korea were able to build them at a lower price,” he explained.

 Japan’s strength lies in the hardware side, he said, adding that “some companies may have lost sight of the innovation on the hardware side, and this is where they failed.”

“To become a company that is absolutely indispensable – that is what I am aiming for – it is essential to be able create things that do not exist elsewhere in the world, and which other countries cannot imitate,” the Seiko Epson chief concluded.

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