Develop artificial intelligence for each person to understand human sensibilities
The service "SENSY" that we develop is an AI (artificial intelligence) for each person who understands human sensibilities. Specifically, since September 2015, we have been providing customer service by SENSY at the Isetan Shinjuku main store, and we are expanding the field of food, such as developing applications for "AI sommelier" in alcoholic beverages. When serving customers, we use a tablet PC to let customers input their impressions of clothes and wine that they like, and introduce recommended products. By connecting this service not only to stores but also to customer service on EC sites, marketing tools, DM and e-mail newsletters, we are developing solutions that optimize product demand forecasting and manufacturing using AI. In addition to BtoB, we are also developing services for consumers with BtoC, such as fashion artificial intelligence apps for smartphones.
Since fashion and food are areas mainly related to human sensibilities, many people may be surprised to introduce AI. Originally, I was involved in AI algorithm research at the Faculty of Science and Technology of Keio University. In that process, I realized that what I wanted to do was not the pursuit of technology itself, but the creation of new things and the provision of new value to society. After participating in an entrepreneurship program, I joined a consulting company and was in charge of business strategy and business reform in various industries in order to acquire business skills for that purpose.
What I witnessed there was a large inventory of apparel makers. In addition to the changing trends, fashion is highly dependent on individual tastes and tastes, making it extremely difficult to predict demand. Although it is necessary to have as many new products as possible, it creates a great deal of waste and puts pressure on management, and the costs and risks are passed on to consumers. We established Colorful Board Co., Ltd. in 2011 with the conviction that we should be able to solve this problem if we can analyze human sensibilities with AI.
Fashion, food ... A groundbreaking approach to inventory risk
At the time of its establishment, it formed a network with about 2,000 creators, operated a crowdsourcing business "Colorful Board" that supports corporate product planning, and undertook goods production planning for J.League and musicians. The knowledge gained there regarding user preferences and evaluations is also utilized in the SENSY business that started in 2014.
SENSY analyzes both master data held by the company, such as product images and descriptions, and big data, such as customer purchase history and site browsing history. In the case of clothes, we will extract the features from the image of the product and analyze the reasons why the customer chooses it, such as color, pattern, silhouette, and so on. It is difficult to accurately express people's tastes in clothes in words, but it feels like reproducing that image with AI. In addition, many people think of Amazon recommendations when it comes to product recommendations, but in the case of SENSY, instead of presenting statistically similar people's preferences from the majority of purchase histories, that person's recommendations. One of our major strengths is that we can analyze our sensibilities and propose products that are closer to our tastes.
On the other hand, for companies, there are benefits in every aspect other than improving production efficiency in sales forecasting. In the area of marketing, we analyze customer reactions to improve the efficiency of attracting customers. In terms of customer service, we will increase conversions for those who visit the store. Customer service also provides chatbots to collect customer feedback and reviews. By linking these on a comprehensive SENSY solution rather than a single shot, a synergistic effect is created, and the more data is accumulated, the higher the accuracy. SENSY aims to build a platform that optimizes the entire industry, rather than optimizing services and parts that are specific to each aspect.
A colorful and diverse future shape guided by AI
Joint research on AI with Professor Eitaro Aiyoshi, a teacher at the Faculty of Science and Technology of Keio University, has had a great effect on these efforts. In 2016, we met with KII CEO Kotaro Yamagishi and decided to support him because he received the "Yagami Award" to commend entrepreneurs from the Faculty of Science and Engineering. In addition to the financial aspect, I feel that this has opened up various perspectives, such as increasing opportunities to connect with business owners from Keio University.
In terms of timing, rising interest in and expectations for AI has also been a big boost. Opportunities for AI-related technologies to be talked about have increased dramatically, but there are not many examples of developing original technologies as our own services and achieving concrete results. With the support of KII, we would like to promote initiatives for the future, such as hiring excellent researchers who will be needed more and more in collaboration with the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
From now on, with the goal of five years from now, I would like to expand the service not only in Japan but also globally while expanding the scope to all areas of lifestyle such as apparel, food, books and travel. For example, based on the eating habits and tastes of those who drink wine, it would be possible to specifically propose a scene that suits sake. The progress of AI is remarkable, and there is no doubt that the environment and market surrounding this technology will undergo major changes in 10 years. By then, we would like to establish a SENSY platform and make the future with personal AI for each person, such as "Doraemon" for everyone, a reality.
Among our company names, "colorful" has the desire to create a world where various designs and various contents are distributed, and "board" has the meaning of transmitting the image of a boarding pass to the world. We hope that each and every employee will be aware of this and change society in collaboration with all companies. It connects niche ideas that have been abandoned in the process of rationalization with consumers who really want them, rather than being standardized like conventional mass products. By doing so, we should be in a situation where more individual and diverse contents are distributed without waste, which is the opposite of mass production and mass consumption represented by fast fashion.
We want to create value that is not yet in the world through new technology. Without forgetting this feeling, I would like to continue to grow for the sake of society.
(This article was published on March 30, 2017. Colorful Board Co., Ltd. changed its name SENSY Inc.