JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

Japan Origin. Creating a New Future. -A Pioneering Alliance Unlocking the Metaverse's Potential-

May 16, 2024

In the heart of Tokyo's pulsing tech district, two technology visionaries are huddled around a screen, feverishly discussing the convergence of cutting-edge avatar creation and decentralized identity solutions. Atsuya MomikuraExternal site: a new window will open., founder of Pocket RDExternal site: a new window will open., and Hirofumi UkitaExternal site: a new window will open. from Fujitsu's prestigious Accelerator programExternal site: a new window will open., are an unlikely duo propelling Japan to the forefront of the Web3 and metaverse revolution.

Momikura's Entrepreneurial Journey

Momikura's path to founding Pocket RD was an unconventional one. After joining Fujitsu in 1995 and working in product marketing for the PC division, his entrepreneurial spirit took hold. He transitioned to Recruit Co. before establishing his own advertising firm, Nextgate, in 2007.

It was during this period that Momikura encountered a German avatar company producing personalized figurines from user photographs. Recognizing the unique market dynamics in Japan, he pivoted the German company's project to adapt it for the Japanese audience, utilizing personal avatar data in a digitalized form. Indeed, Momikura found the market uniqueness of Japan, so he tailored the avatar concept to leverage personal digital data rather than physical figurines.

However, when the German company withdrew from Japan, Momikura seized the opportunity to launch Pocket RD in November 2017, dedicated to producing cutting-edge personal digital data and avatar solutions.

Mr.Momikura from Pocket RD(provided by PocketRD)

Avatarium: Democratizing Digital Identities

Central to Pocket RD's arsenal is Avatarium, a groundbreaking platform that enables the rapid creation of hyper-realistic 3D avatars. With multiple photographs, users can generate a fully automated digital representation of themselves within minutes, complete with intricate details like articulated fingers.

However, Momikura's ambitions extend far beyond mere avatar creation. "Our ultimate vision is to democratize digital identities," he asserts. "We want to empower everyone, from tech-savvy enthusiasts to the general public, with the ability to craft their own virtual personas effortlessly."

Envisioning a future where digital signages double as interactive avatar stations, Momikura paints a vivid picture: "Imagine standing in front of the Mona Lisa and superimposing your own avatar onto that iconic visage. That's the kind of seamless, immersive experience we're striving to create."

Avatarium to generate personal avatar in metaverse(provided by PocketRD)

Fujitsu's Startup Support and PocketRD’s Quest for Decentralized Identities

While Pocket RD blazes new trails in avatar creation, Fujitsu Accelerator, the open innovation arm of Fujitsu itself, provides vital support and resources to nurture startups like Momikura's firm. Launched in 2015 as a dedicated team for startup alliance, Fujitsu Accelerator has considered over 230 projects for potential collaboration, completing 120 projects so far ranging from sales support to joint product development.

Through the collaboration between Pocket RD and Fujitsu, their ultimate vision extends beyond avatars alone. Momikura explains "Our goal is to achieve decentralized identities and verifiable credentials (DIDs/VCs) within society". DIDs are cryptographically verifiable identifiers that enable trusted digital identities without relying on centralized authorities. Verifiable Credentials allow individuals to securely and privately prove claims about themselves.

The implications of DIDs and VCs are profound, offering a pathway to a more transparent and equitable Web3 ecosystem. "With Fujitsu's leadership in systems integration and access to vast identity data, we aim to create social proof that drives the adoption of DIDs and VCs in Japan," Momikura states.

Fujitsu's diverse solutions and identity information position the tech giant to shape the very rules and environment necessary for these decentralized identity solutions to thrive. Initiatives in some cities in Japan for proof-of-concept are already underway, paving the way for a future where digital identities are truly self-sovereign.

Fujitsu accelerator team(provided by Fujitsu)

Recreating Legends in the Metaverse

Beyond identity solutions, Fujitsu is leveraging AI-driven motion capture technology used since 2019 in the World Gymnastics Championships to pioneer a new experience in the metaverse. This technology will be showcased at the Fujitsu booth at Vivatech this time.Fujitsu is also exploring uncharted territories in the metaverse realm. Ukita reveals plans for Digital Human Twins “Anata”, a platform that will enable the creation of digital human representations, including those of historical figures and departed individuals.

"Imagine witnessing legendary soccer matches or iconic moments in history through the player’s avatars of the very people who lived them," Ukita muses. "We could bring these experiences to life in ways never thought possible."

One such project involves recreating the likeness of Toshio Ikeda, a pioneering figure in the computer industry, within the metaverse – a testament to Fujitsu's commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital experiences.

Collaboration of Pocket RD and Fujitsu to generate multiple movement for personal avatar(provided by PocketRD)

Forging Global Partnerships

As Vivatech 2024 draws near, both Momikura and Ukita are actively seeking international collaborators to amplify their efforts. "Japanese subcultures are enjoying a surge in popularity across Europe," notes Ukita. "We aim to leverage this interest to accelerate our avatar business while finding partners to develop new Web3 and metaverse projects."

For Momikura, the goal is crystal clear: "We want to create an avatar of President Macron and countless other French citizens, demonstrating the power of our pioneering technologies while fostering global alliances."

In a world where technological marvels emerge daily, Japan's contributions have often been overshadowed by language barriers and a lack of international outreach. But as Pocket RD and Fujitsu Accelerator take the stage at Vivatech, a new narrative is emerging – one where Japan's rich heritage of innovation is poised to shape the future of digital experiences.

"We want to promote Japan's long-developed technologies to the world while evolving our own solutions through collaborative efforts," Ukita declares. "Vivatech is just the beginning of a new chapter for Japan's tech scene on the global stage."

As the interview draws to a close, the electric energy buzzing between Momikura and Ukita is palpable – a dynamic synergy that transcends mere technological collaboration. Their partnership is a powerful symbol of Japan's enduring innovative spirit, a rallying call for the nation to reclaim its well-deserved mantle as a pioneering force driving the digital revolution forward. With ambitious visions, groundbreaking technologies, and a shared determination to amplify Japan's voice on the global stage, this unlikely alliance between Pocket RD and Fujitsu Accelerator heralds an exciting new era of opportunities that will reverberate far beyond the country's borders.

Profile of Atsuya Momikura, PocketRD Inc. CEO Producer
Japan Contents Blockchain Initiative Board Member
LinkedinExternal site: a new window will open.

After graduating from Doshisha University with a degree in psychology, Momikura worked consistently in business planning, marketing, and advertising fields at Fujitsu and Recruit Co. As COO of "Dream Gate," a project of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, he led the establishment of an entrepreneurial culture and independent privatization. In 2017, sensing the potential of the coming XR business, he founded POCKET RD and became its representative. He was selected as one of the "100 companies that will create the market of the future" by Nikkei Shimbun and Nikkei Trendy in 2020 and 2021 consecutively.


Profile of Hirofumi Ukita, Fujitsu Global, director of Fujitsu accelerator
LinkedinExternal site: a new window will open.

Joined Fujitsu as a network engineer and developed business for US network carriers. Expertise are market analysis and product business strategy planning. Have been a founding member of Fujitsu's cloud business since 2007, and realized business roll-out in 8 zones throughout the world, including Japan.
Also working on creating new business, and contributed to the establishment of TechShop Tokyo. Since 2019, has led the team as head of FUJITSU ACCELERATOR (Fujitsu's open innovation program).Hobbies are playing baseball and ice hockey.

Report by:
Yusuke Kaga, Startup Support Division, JETRO

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