This interview is the final article of a three-part series focusing on the Superhuman Suit. Read the preceding articles:
Part One - Eyes in the Back of Your Head - The Suit to Perceive the Imperceptible
Part Two - Build the Suit, Become the Hero
Continuing from Part 1 and 2, we bring down the curtain on Superhuman Suit creator Mitsuhiro Matsumoto’s story by asking him about his future plans.
Now that the Superhuman Suit has reached a functional state, how does Matsumoto plan to improve upon it?
“Well of course I’d like to make it smaller and lighter, as well as improve its efficiency. The vest is currently equipped with 25 sensors that all emit ultrasonic waves, so if they try to detect an object that’s fairly far away, it’s possible that they might interfere with each other, and the suit would then vibrate even when an object is not necessarily present. That’s one type of malfunction. If the suit is set to detect objects within one meter that type of malfunction doesn’t typically happen, but there might not be enough time to react to something that’s already so close, or you may have already felt its presence before the suit has a chance to alert you. That’s why I’m trying to think of the most optimal way to arrange the sensors in order to detect objects within a 5 to 10 meter range.”
It seems that getting it to work is one thing, but making it more practical is a completely separate issue.
However, that’s not to say that the Superhuman Suit is the only thing Matsumoto is working on.
“I’m interested in creating tools that people can actually use. For example, a compass used for drawing circles. Surprisingly, there are few people that can use a compass to actually draw a perfect circle. In order to solve that problem, I’m developing a new kind of compass that can easily draw more perfectly round circles. Other than that, I’m also working on a tape dispenser. When you pull tape from dispensers, they have a tendency to shift around, don’t they? I’m making one that won’t have that problem.”
Matsumoto states that the Superhuman Suit was made to help increase people’s sense of safety by alerting them of surroundings they may not be aware are actually there. In the same vein of helping others, the compass and tape cutter were also born of his desire to make hard-to-use items simpler to master. By researching tools that people can put to use, he hopes to become more and more involved with humanity as a whole.
Finally, Matsumoto has a message for anyone thinking of taking on the challenge of the INNO-vation Program.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to work with other people while you’re implementing your idea. For example, linking up with somebody who is proficient in design would be a good idea. I, myself, got some help at one part of the process. But bringing something to life from zero, that has to start with the vision, interest and volition of the individual. If you decide from the beginning to create something with many people involved, I think it has a tendency to turn out mundane or average. Even if each person has their own unique ideas, once you put them together it’ll become average in the end. To create something truly interesting, it has to start from the idea of an individual."
"The starting point is you. If you have a feasible idea you’ve been keeping to yourself, I highly recommend you give the INNO-vation Program a try. If it seems compelling, I’m sure you’ll get support for it.”