From TechCrunch50 in San Francisco: Sekai Camera provides social tagging for the iPhone, delivers strange presentation

Tonchidot, a Tokyo-based start-up, was the second Japanese party presenting at this year’s TechCrunch50 conference that currently takes place in San Francisco.

Their presentation today was probably the most talked about of day 2 (tomorrow is the last day of the conference) but in my view, this is because of the wrong reasons. As stated in my original report for TechCrunch, regarding the presentation for Sekai Camera, a social tagging service developed exclusively for the iPhone, I had the feeling most people laughed more at the presentation than about it.

What’s worse: It was very hard to understand what Sekai Camera actually DOES and what problem it solves, even though the service seems to be very cool. Essentially, you are supposed to hold an iPhone, which is equipped with the Sekai Camera application, in front of your eyes and look at the display while walking around. What the display shows you in real time is small tags containing information about places, products, sightseeing spots etc. you are “seeing” through your iPhone’s camera (in case they were tagged by somebody before).

Also, I didn’t understand why they were not inclined to answer any technology-related questions. Erick Schonfeld (TechCrunch’s co-editor) and myself went looking for 10 minutes to look after the Tonchidot people but they left their booth at that time, which is a pity. I talked to the CEO and Marketing Director after the presentation myself but couldn’t get any deep information either. Sure, there might be some legal/patent-related issues but they didn’t even say if their Tech is GPS-based, if it uses image recognition or triangulation as technical solutions.

They didn’t even answer these questions when the jury experts asked them. I am aware that there was a language problem but still, it was strange.

A blogger from Germany (where I hail from) who is present in San Francisco and actually quite influential wrote in his blog [GER] that he suspects Sekai Camera is a fake product and the presenters wanted to ridicule the conference. I heard speculations like this over a dozen times today.

And I am not sure if it’s a good company strategy to take a presentation as easy as that, may it be TechCrunch50 or any other, smaller conference. Opentrace did it better. Let’s see what Gazopa does tomorrow.

This is a demo video of Sekai Camera:

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Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.

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Serkan Toto

Dr. Serkan Toto is a German based in Tokyo. Like us, he is passionate about introducing Japanese IT to the rest of the world. Full-time, Serkan works as an independent web industry consultant for hedge funds, venture capital companies and start-ups worldwide. He is also a writer for mega tech blog network TechCrunch, covering Japan-related technology and web trends. This is Serkan's website. Follow Serkan on Twitter here.

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