An Attempt at Open Innovation That Started from a Rough Sketch
On February 5, 2015, the Olympus Corporation unveiled the Olympus Air A01, an open platform camera ("OPC"). Roughly five years prior, it was a conceptual rough sketch. A new concept of camera was born: a camera that connects to your smartphone and can do everything from taking photos to processing and uploading them to social networking sites. It was Loftwork Inc.'s "OPC Hack & Make Project" that made this possible. This is an exploratory project for a new imaging experience that tackles the theme of open innovation through co-creation.
The Olympus Corporation's Kensuke Ishii and Akinobu Sato happened to incubate the same concept in different places. Loftwork Inc.'s Hajime Matsui, Yuya Tanaka, Mayumi Ishikawa, Shoma Terai, and Tomoko Sekiguchi are partners in the production process of manufacturers. These seven individuals reflect on the road they have just traveled, recounting how a project with no foreseeable end was both tense and fun.
The Project Starts Before Setting a Manufacturing Date! The Value of the OPC Is Verbalized over Roughly Three Months
Matsui: We had a plan to get expert creators to build us a radical app, but we didn't end up using it.
Sato: It was an interesting idea, but the OPC was still unknown territory for us. If we went entrusted everything to them, nothing would come out of it, even if they made a big bang. We had other fine proposals and didn't mind pushing things back a bit. But as for the planning overall, I felt an energy from Loftwork Inc. They left me with a favorable impression. None of their ideas could have come from within our company.
Matsui: They communicated the details of their proposals, and we kicked off the project in January 2014 without having set a manufacturing date. For the first three months, the Olympus Corporation and Loftwork Inc. held their weekly workshops a total of seven times, during which the value and concept of the OPC were verbalized.
Towards the Building of Spaces by Co-Creation: Bringing in Creators and Developers to "Create the Value of the OPC Together"
Matsui: We carried out user interviews after establishing the concept and target user developed in the workshops, but we had trouble trying to get people to understand what was "new"about the OPC. That's when we came to the painful realization that it would be difficult to appeal to users if we determined the value of the OPC solely by ourselves. We then regained our footing by "creating the value together" with creators and developers from outside of Loftwork Inc. Specifically, "hacker" developers and "maker" creators become community-focused OPC fans who use the OPC to form an "OPC community" for building a brand-new camera.The scenario involved us creating an "OPC community" through which developers (coming from "hacker" background) and creators (coming from a "maker" background) would use the OPC to create a brand-new camera and become community-focused OPC fans.
The Project Is First Unveiled at MIT Media Lab @ Tokyo and a Development Community Begins to Form
Matsui: Our own Ishikawa came on board in May 2014 to materialize plans for the creation of a development community.
Ishikawa (Loftwork Inc.): As an employee working four days a week, I was in charge of announcements, writing weekly articles on Gizmodo and Engadget, and blogging. One of the reasons I participated in this project was because I could disseminate information to media and bloggers interested in the OPC.