The useless invention videos Marina Fujiwara uploaded to YouTube were gaining traction and the subscriber count on her channel was starting to increase. Her unique creations were also starting to garner the attention of various businesses to the point that she began taking on client work from those companies.
It goes without saying that completing work for clients turned out to be a lucrative opportunity for Fujiwara. Before she knew it, making useless inventions became her livelihood. She quit her part-time job and was freed from trying to spontaneously come up with ideas from her everyday life. Despite turning over this new leaf, there was still something on her shoulders that she couldn’t shake off.
“I ended up in a situation in which I was only doing work for clients and it felt like that was going to catch up to me sooner or later,” Fujiwara explained. “I wasn’t creating anything that I personally wanted to make. None of the creations were giving me that same sense of joy that I had in the beginning. That’s when I came across the INNO-vation Program and found out I could receive support for up to one year, so I applied.”
Once she was selected for the 2019 INNO-vation Program’s Disruptive Challenge, she quit the client work that she initially took on for income, as well as the web media that she was involved with, all to give her undivided attention to creating the things she wanted to create.
This new path turned out to be a good thing for her, as she continues to create the things she loves even to the present day, far after her time in the program. She’s started taking up client work again, though it’s no longer the main focus of her career. “Thanks to the INNO-vation Program, I was able to create an effective cycle of saving the money I get from clients while continuing to make the things I want,” Fujiwara said.
The benefits Fujiwara received from the INNO-vation Program didn’t stop there. Thanks to the support she received, she was able to purchase a large amount of equipment such as a 3D printer, the microcontroller Arduino, a servomotor, and other various parts used for her inventions. “I was then able to take the ideas I had and quickly turn them into actual items,” Fujiwara said with a smile.
Once she was equipped with the devices to make her ideas into reality, she began announcing new creations one after another. Out of all her useless inventions, her most popular was the Zoom Drinking Party Escape Machine. With the push of a button, a physical loading icon rises up in front of the computer screen in order to imitate a bad internet connection. From there, one can safely leave a Zoom room and blame it on the internet.
Although the other members of the party might realize upon further inspection that it’s not really a loading icon, using it as a tool to indicate that you want to leave the party conveys a humorous read of the room to all attendees. In 2020, Fujiwara collaborated with Maywa Denki (creators of the Otamatone) and released the machine for sale in retail stores.
Fujiwara’s challenge period for the Disruptive Challenge took place right as the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread worldwide. “Since I couldn’t really leave my home, I was able to stay holed up in the studio and work continuously on the inventions I was creating within the INNO-vation Program,” Fujiwara stated. As she continued to create new, useless inventions, the pandemic had an overall positive effect on her work life.
In part 3, we’ll ask Fujiwara what she plans to do in the future.
Part 3 coming May 9th, 2022