Run by fellow Ravensbourne incubatee and founder of Mi-Hub Rafael Dos Santos the Migrant Business Show is an event where migrant entrepreneurs showcase their businesses to people in hopes of receiving future business opportunities.
While not being a migrant entrepreneur myself it was fascinating to see the broad range of businesses on show from a new and innovative storage service all the way to IT solutions for large companies.
The event also doubled as a party for the launch of Mi-Hub’s new office space in Aldgate. By day the space will not only be a place for Mi-Hub and its operations but a place where migrant entrepreneurs can develop their own businesses, network with like-minded people and work in the heart of London at an affordable rate.
If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is. One of the most interesting taste experiences I tried this year was eating mackerel that has been dipped in to a glass of warm sake I don’t know how or why it tastes so good but it does, it tastes almost as if the mackerel was marinated in champagne and in every bite you get such a rich flavour on top the meatyness of the fish. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone whenever the opportunity arises.
I for one have never really been a fan of macarons but for those of you who are you are spoiled for choice not just with the sheer number of flavours but also the attention to detail with some of these aesthetically, who wouldn’t want a macaron shaped like a cute bear’s face? I tried the sakura (cherry blossom flower), rose and lavender which were all very nice, I as tempted to buy a box of assorted macarons but as a rule of thumb any food at a convention will always costs a lot more than outside of it.
The final food I tried for the first time was something I have seen before but always been cautious of, i’m talking about green tea flavoured ice cream. At £2 per cone it’s not too much more than a traditional ice cream but it’s so much nicer, of course being inside a stuffy convention hall means you have to eat it quickly or else it will melt.
Of course I had to have the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza and a dragon tail. The dragon tail (above) is the simplest and cheapest of all the options and makes for a nice snack but flavour wise it’s not much more exciting than you would expect it to be it’s just rice, shrimp and nori.
There were other foods and drinks I wanted to try including instant miso soup dispensers, ramen and everyone’s favourite drink Ramune but one can only eat so much over 3 days and it’s good to have something new for next time.
Due to the ever rising popularity of Hyper Japan for the first time there have been 2 events this year, the usual one during the Summer and now a Christmas Market which was held at Olympia. Last time I mentioned how disappointing Hyper Japan was as it was a medium sized event trying to expand in to a large sized venue which resulted in lots of leftover space and wide walkways, this year they corrected that problem by using a smaller venue and spreading the event over 2 floors.
If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is, this time there were more food stands than ever including instant miso soup dispensers, green tea flavoured ice cream macarons and of course the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza.
After eating your fill there were plenty of video games to play including Mario Kart 64, Street Fighter with the arcade stick and Dance Dance Revolution. While I may not be a good dancer there were plenty of other games (primarily retro) to play and even if you come alone you will definitely find someone who’ll be your player 2.
There were plenty of stalls selling Japanese products from replica swords and pocket fans to pokemon cards and kimonos. While the quantity was not as large as any previous Hyper Japan it catered to the vast majority of people at the show. When you’re not attempting to succeed at Kendama (Japanese ball and cup game) or almost being fooled by the hyper-realistic Japanese food there are constant performances on stage from musicians, chefs and artists showing their craft for the public to see.
Even the Sake Experience makes a small return with a grand total of 3 stands where you can taste a variety of sakes. As expected the Hyper Japan Christmas Market was nowhere near the scale of the usual events in the summer but for what it is it’s enough to satisfy people.That being said I don’t think the Hyper Japan Christmas Market should charge the same amount to get in as its predecessor (£12). Not everyone wants a huge venue where it would take a huge amount of time and energy to see everything instead Hyper Japan condensed everything that makes its events in to a more bite sized experience.
Having missed the majority of this talk due to a meeting that went on far longer than I expected as well as some unexpected time finding the place which was hidden behind a gated community. The talks were very refreshing as the focus was not on apps, websites and software but physical products, hardware and technology. Many startups were present at this event and all of them were doing something amazing.
After the talks there was a show and tell from each of the startups who presented earlier as well as free beer and canapés. The first product I saw was the Pavegen, these slabs can generate electricity by just letting people walk on top of them. It’s such a genius idea yet also so simple, why don’t these already exist in public space? My guess is the cost.
Next up was MyScope which is a medical device for reading vital medical measurements. While smart stethoscopes already exist the design of them is okay at best with little to no thought about context and how it will be used in the field. MyScope is changing this with the most advanced stethoscope medicine has ever experienced. Their words not mine.
A lot of these startups consist of only a few people and securing funding is often a problem however with crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The Deska Board is one of many startups that are seeking funding to bring their product to market. Deska is an innovative new form of transportation that lets people windsurf through the city.
Combining technology with products is another big theme for startups today and Audiowings has fused them together to create a new experience you wouldn’t expect. By using GPS Audiowings know where you are and plays music to enhance what you are doing for example if you are in a park then you might hear calm music or if you are in a restaurant then perhaps you will hear music that compliments your meal.
Also in the area of combining technology, audio and hardware is a device called Mogees that lets you play the world as a musical instrument. It works by sensing vibrations nearby and playing a sound based on the frequency it hears, it’s a lot of fun to play the wheel of a bicycle who knows what creative things musicians will do with this product?
After seeing this showcase it’s with great pleasure and discomfort that I say, I have had my faith in hardware restored. So many apps, websites and digital products are booming right now and people think they are the future which they are but let’s not forget about physical products and the power that something tangible can have on someones life. In a world where digital design dominates it’s nice to see the impact hardware startups are having too.
As per usual Nintendo had several areas dotted around Hyper Japan to show off their existing games, consoles and even demos of upcoming games. While I can’t deny Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker where all highlights nothing stood out more than the Wii U Smash Bros.
In order to play it you first had to play and win a match in the 3DS version of Smash Bros (which I lost in) then you had the chance to go on stage and fight live on the big screen for fun and for glory. Many people say they are pleasantly surprised with the 3DS version as they thought it would be awkward to play however I can confirm that excluding the chunky slab of metal attached to the 3DS so we couldn’t steal it the gameplay was fluent and before the match started they did show you they controls. Not every character was available however we did get to see newcomers like Megaman (who I played as), the Wii Fit Trainer and the Villager tussle with veteran fighters. If you were lucky enough to win your round in the 3DS Smash Bros (which I didn’t) you got the chance to play it on the Wii U in on the big screen in front of a cheering audience. Although Amiibo showed an appearance in what was perhaps the world’s brightest display case it Nintendo didn’t show how it would be used in the game.
Perhaps the 2nd most popular game hence the 1 1/2 hour line was Hyrule Warriors. This Zelda skin of the popular game Dynasty Warriors was an action filled hack and slash game with barrages of enemies coming at you and overkill attacks to disperse of them. One complaint which I found out happened to pretty much everybody is to do with the key-mapping on the gamepad. Every Zelda fan knows you press A to open a chest but so many people ended up wasting their special attacks instead according to Nintendo the keys are mapped to the Dynasty Warriors game style however there is an option to change them for a more Zelda-esque experience.
Originally a mini-game in Mario 3D World Captain Toad Treasure Tracker has the protagonist Toad exploring 3D environments in order to achieve a star. While it is in the same style as Mario 3D World and Mario Galaxy it is a much slower paced games with little emphasis action. The road from A to B is not always simple although it does requires patience, timing and utilising the gamepad to create new pathways.
As for 3DS games I have already downloaded the demo of Tomadachi Life so I didn’t need to try it again. The game is a life simulator although not a serious one like The Sims or an open one like Animal Crossing. After creating a Mii as the main character you move in to a block of apartments on an island with other Miis, by interacting with the other Miis you can create friendships, find lovers and even raise a family. One feature I would have liked to seen is a world where each Mii is controlled by an actual person instead of a CPU this would have brought a lot more meaning and depth to how people interact with each Mii in the game although to Nintendo’s defence they wanted it to be a lighthearted, not-so-serious game which isn’t a 1:1 mirror of reality. This is most evidently seen in their controversial decision to not include same-sex relationships in the game.
The final game I tried for less than 10 minutes was Pokemon Art Academy. The Art Academy series is not one I have played before this being a designer I do not see the need for this as I already know how to draw. During my session I sketched, inked and coloured an image of ???, The result was okay considering the limitations although I also do not understand the need for this as the 3DS and even the Wii U as they are not the ideal mediums for learning how to draw digitally, I leave that up to the iPad for casual use and Wacom tablets for professionals.
Despite not playing Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros on the Wii U like I wanted to I thought Nintendo’s did a great job of selling themselves at Hyper Japan and appealing more people in to buying a Wii U. Hell I even bought one last week! More on that soon.