– TOKYO, Japan, May 15, 2023 –
Seiko Epson Corporation (TSE: 6724, “Epson”) and its subsidiary company Epson X Investment Corporation (“EXI”) have invested in Japanese startup company AI Silk Corporation through a joint fund, the EP-GB Investment Limited Partnership. Sendai-based AI Silk, a startup that spun out of Tohoku University, develops and manufactures a high-performance conductive textile called “LEAD SKIN®.”
Conductive textiles have been used as materials for automotive parts and wearable devices in applications such as biological measurement and EMS1. However, there have been a number of issues. Sensing accuracy can be affected by conductive resistance. The feel and changes in properties (rust) can affect comfort and safety. There have also been issues in terms of manufacturing cost and durability.
LEAD SKIN®, a high-performance conductive textile developed and manufactured by AI Silk®, solves these issues. AI Silk has succeeded in making a variety of materials conductive, including silk, polyester, nonwoven fabrics, and suede. This was achieved by dramatically improving the manufacturing process by adopting a proprietary conductive polymer coating technology based on technology invented at Tohoku University. This technology improves sensing accuracy by reducing conductive resistance. It also improves the feel, texture, comfort, and durability of the textile while also reducing manufacturing costs.
AI Silk intends to use this third-party allotment of shares to expand volume production of LEAD SKIN®. The company plans to expand beyond Japan and to sell LEAD SILK® as a material to meet the growing global demand for automotive parts and wearable devices such as EMS products. It is also considering expanding into the medical field.
Epson aims to give people lifestyle choices and enable them to live enriched lifestyles founded on physical and mental well-being. Epson decided to invest in AI Silk because it sees LEAD SKIN® as an interface technology for converting biological data captured through daily life into new value.
Going forward, Epson will help to achieve a sustainable society by creating a variety of partnerships and synergies based on its proprietary technologies, products, and services.
■About Epson X Investment
Epson X Investment Corporation is a Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) firm wholly owned by information equipment and precision instrument manufacturer Seiko Epson Corporation. It established the EP-GB Investment Limited Partnership with independent venture capital firm Global Brain Corporation, an independent venture capital firm specializing in CVC management, and participates in investment activities.
■About AI SILK
AI Silk was founded in June 2015 based on conductive textile technology for silk that was researched at Tohoku University. The company later established mass production technology for coating not only silk but also base textile materials such as polyester, cotton, nonwoven fabrics, and suede with a conductive polymer using dyeing techniques.
AI Silk measures vital data using next-to-skin wear that incorporates smooth, comfortable conductive textiles as electrodes, without compromising the texture of the base textile. It also manufactures wearable sensors and touch sensors that apply conductive textiles.
Polyester-based conductive textiles are being used by many consumers in Japan as materials for electric stimulation training wear.
|Company Name||AI Silk Corporation|
|Established||June 1, 2015|
|Business Details||1. Manufacture and sales of AI SILK (electrodes)
2. Manufacture and sale of application related products of AI SILK (electrodes)
|Head Office Location||T-Biz, 6-6-40, Aramaki Aza Aoba Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8579, Japan|
|Capital||99,000,000 yen (as of April 2023)|
|Number of employees||21 (as of April 2023)|
1 EMS: Electrical muscle stimulation. The elicitation of muscle contractions using small electric impulses in the expectation of the same type of effect as strength training.
* LEAD SKIN is a trademark or registered trademark of AI Silk Corporation.
* AI Silk is a registered trademark of AI Silk Corporation.
Epson is a global technology leader whose philosophy of efficient, compact and precise innovation enriches lives and helps create a better world. The company is focused on solving societal issues through innovations in home and office printing, commercial and industrial printing, manufacturing, visual and lifestyle. Epson’s goal is to become carbon negative and eliminate use of exhaustible underground resources such as oil and metal by 2050.
Led by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corporation, the worldwide Epson Group generates annual sales of more than JPY 1 trillion.