Business Management

Epson innovation: From printers to wearable tech and robots

When you think about Epson, it doesn’t bring to mind much in the way in excitement. It’s a large printing giant that’s been around since the early days of technology, and nothing much changes.

This is precisely the image the company is trying to challenge. Despite perceptions about stagnation, “Japanese companies are still world leaders” when it comes to innovation, according to the company’s Global President Minoru Usui.

“There might be some sceptics around Japanese companies and their ability to innovate but Epson is a strong global company with a culture of innovation and a spirit of adventure at its core,” he said while speaking in London today.

Since Usui took charge of the company in 2008, he has worked hard to change the focus on R&D from looking at what the competition is doing and towards concentrating on the customer, and the company was spending 6% of its annual turnover on R&D, equating to around $1.3 million every day.

Those innovations are “starting to bear fruit” not only with good performances on the Tokyo stock exchange, but also the release of the company’s latest smartglasses, the Moverio Pro BT-2000; enterprise-focused wearable technology that makes use of Epson’s sensor and imaging technology that’s on par with the likes of Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens, but available now.

“Many people think of Epson as consumer printers,” said Rob Clark, senior vice president of Epson Europe. “But innovation is at the very core of this business.”

“We have 50,000 live patents that are the lifeblood of our product development.”

Part of Epson’s new charge is a major push into Europe, where the company plans to increase its workforce 10% over the next 12 months and open offices in Germany, Spain and Portugal. 50% of the company’s revenue comes from the business, and in the short term there will be a big push to promote inkjet printers to the business community, with technology such as wearables or the company’s factory-automation robots coming later.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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