Partnering for Success: Unveil How Collaborative Partnership Supports the Japanese Maker Community

Partnering for Success: Unveil How Collaborative Partnership Supports the Japanese Maker Community

Elephant Robotics is excited to present the 2nd part of our exclusive interview series, providing unique insights into our collaborations with esteemed partners. In this interview, we had the privilege of speaking with Masakazu TAKASU, a global business development at the Switch Science, Inc. Takasu began by introducing Switch Science, a Japanese company dedicated to serving makers and providing open-source hardware solutions. With a diverse customer base including universities, high schools, laboratories, companies, and individual makers across Japan, Switch Science focuses on making technology more accessible and user-friendly.

Takasu emphasized, "The Japanese maker community is top of the world, Japanese DIY is so fruitful ecosystem by makers." Japan boasts numerous technoly enterprises renowned for their strong innovation capabilities and commitment to adopting cutting-edge technologies. Particularly, Tokyo stands out for its vibrant tech community, serving as a vital hub for technological advancements. Takasu said, "AI makes things easier to create," underscoring how the advancement of AI and robotics technologies has lowered the barriers to technical development, increased developer efficiency, and ultimately enhanced convenience in human life.

Recognizing cultural differences, Elephant Robotics has undertaken extensive localization efforts for the Japanese market, including integration into the local tech ecosystem, support for Switch Science's regional market activities across Japan, assistance with Japanese translation and localization of promotional materials, and collaboration with influential Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in the Japanese market. Through these initiatives, Elephant Robotics provides comprehensive support to Switch Science, streamlining their customer support efforts and freeing up resources to focus on other aspects of their business. This underscores the importance of Elephant Robotics' support in establishing a robust distributor network for Switch Science in Japan and then effectively caters to the burgeoning interest in robotics among software engineers and laboratories.

When addressing challenges and opportunities, Takasu underscored the necessity of clear documentation and robust repair support for robots, particularly emphasizing the importance of user-friendly instructions and streamlined repair processes. Furthermore, he expressed optimism regarding the future of robotics and AI, envisioning smoother programming and seamless human-robot interaction driven by technological advancements.

In pursuit of deeper collaboration with Switch Science, Elephant Robotics will actively participate in more Japanese events and initiate direct dialogues with users to gain valuable insights into their needs and feedback. Recognizing the importance of direct engagement in refining products and enhancing service quality, we are committed to establishing closer connections with users in partnership with Switch Science. We will explore new avenues for robotics technology and ensure superior service delivery to a broader customer base together.

As part of Elephant Robotics' commitment to expanding our distribution network around the world, we are excited to share Masakazu TAKASU's insights with our global community. Stay tuned for the next installment of our exclusive interview series, where we will explore our partnership with our loyal customer partner, the Eureka Robotics Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The interview script is as follows

**Q refers to the question asked by the interviewer from Elephant Robotics.**

**Takasu is the interviewee from Switch Science.**

Q1: Can you talk about your journey and current role at Switch Science?

Takasu: Hi, my name is Takasu, a global business development at the Switch Science.

Q2: Could you briefly introduce Switch Science, its business scope and target customer groups?

Takasu: Switch Science is a Japanese company that focuses on makers for make something easier. Switch Science is a platform for the open source hardware that include a lot of robot source hardware for the makers, such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Servo motor, robotic arms, M5Stack, cameras and sensors. 33% of our customer is universities and high schools, 33% is companies or laboratories, and 33% is individual makers throughout Japan.

Q3: What do you think of the maker community?

Takasu: Maker means from the idea to the real things. Japanese maker community is top of the world, many projects made by makers by themselves, high quality and very good idea. Japanese DIY is so fruitful ecosystem by makers. All Japanese companies and universities also collaborate with makers.

Q4: What is your perspective on the current state and potential of robotics technology and AI technology?

Takasu: AI makes things easier to create. Previously, many micro controller users are hard to LED flashing. But currently LED flashing is too easy. 30 to 40 years ago have to design own logic and circuit for LED flashing. But now it's very easy to do it, just do programming micro controller for LED flashing. Now controlling robots also makes moving things not so easier ever. Previously, when we want to control the motor, have to make own Motor driver, that not so easy. Making robots, it means more complicated things. Thus, lots of physical knowledge have to learn before making a robot. But now AI and the new robot technology make it easier to make the moving things.

Q5: How did you come to know and choose to become a distributor of Elephant Robotics?

Takasu: We Switch Science has a very long-term partnership with the Shenzhen M5Stack. They found a robotic arm in this myCobot 280. That's the reason why I know the Elephant Robotics. Switch Science and Elephant Robotics' relationship is more than 3 years. We started to set up in Japan probably in 2020. Many Japanese users, such as software engineers want to try robots. They will buy the myCobot series. This is a myCobot 280 M5Stack version, but Elephant Robotics has also Raspberry Pi version. As for the laboratories, they begin a lot of new things. That's the reason why I find the opportunity was there, then made a distributor contract with Elephant Robotics between Switch Science.

Q6: How do you employ to promote robots within the Japanese market?

Takasu: Maker market is different from others. Makers have to find them by themselves and also have to promote by themselves. I support the Japanese robotics community, such as Robot, Factory Automation and also Maker.

Q7: Do you encounter any challenges and opportunities?

Takasu: Some Japanese engineers read the books about the myCobot. But these books is not so many, I need more books and tutorials that made by the users by themselves. After the Maker Fair in Tokyo, I saw 4 to 5 projects of the myCobot, but we need more. myAGV is a very good product I know. But currently, Elephant Robotics has too many robotic arms in the same field. Then we need more some differences about each part of the characteristic.

Q8: Which robotic arm does the maker community prefer more?

Takasu: Currently, among Elephant Robotics' products, myCobot is the best one. Other robotic arm is not enough to see the value as the myCobot. myCobot is a very unique product, 6 DOF, high operatability of ROS, and not so expensive. But the accuracy and the creativity is not so high, this is very unique character in robotic arm feature. That's the reason why very succeed.

Q9: myCobot 280 has 4 versions, which version of myCobot 280 is preferred by the maker community?

Takasu: In Japanese market M5 is the best version, because many Japanese users use myCobot with desktop computer.

Q10: How do you provide feedback and suggestions to Elephant Robotics to improve their products and services?

Takasu: Currently product usage is bit confused, usages should be made clearer. And each robotic arm and part should be more easy to repair. Current documentation is not so understandable. We Switch Science still continuously customer support for Japanese users, but easier to get the repair parts and also tutorials for the robotic arm is important. Switch Science have some stocks for the repair. myCobot's stock is enough, but other robotic arms' stock is not so enough. Each robotic arm's tutorial on the how to replace part is different. We still continue to talk between 2 companies: Elephant Robotics and Switch Science.

Q11: Do you believe that AI is beneficial for improving the quality of human life?

Takasu: This is a bit of similar answer with the previous question. Making things is very naturally human's habit, AI makes making things easier. That is the better for the human life definitely. Every technology will be misunderstanding and misusing. This is the same as car, airplane, telecommunication, computer and also AI. Around 10 years ago, I'm working for the search engine and also recommendation system. After the machine learning, search engine, and recommendation system support for buying something and choosing something. Then AI more progress day by day. Now AI is boundless for supporting many activities for the human being, but it still only for the laptop, only for the computer, not for robotics yet. In the near future, it's more easy to make the recommendation for how to make robot.

Q12: What expectations or recommendations do you have for the future development of robotics?

Takasu: Programming is only for the information science. But for the robotics, all parts and all hardware are different. For example, my programming in my laptop and your programming in your laptop is completely same, bit by bit. But my robotic arm and your robotic arm is slightly different, same robotic arm ID number but different hardware situation. Today's robot and tomorrow's robot is different, and all physical things are also different. That's the reason why physical thing is much difficult to design than computer science. The old style robot is very separate from the human being, but now the robots can work with human. That's the reason why service industry, such as hospital has the opportunity to use the robot. In the future, everything will be easier, better program the robotics programming language by AI, better communication with the robots by the computer science. I have the opportunity to make things easier.

Q13: Do you have any expectations for further cooperation between Elephant Robotics and Switch Science?

Takasu: Last year, Elephant Robotics came to Tokyo Maker Fair and told with Japanese users directly. This is very good thing for our marketing. I strongly believe that Elephant Robotics come again at the next Maker Fair in Japan and talk with users together.

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