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Innovative Solutions for Musculoskeletal Support

Interview - May 20, 2024

The interview highlights Daiya Industry's significant contributions to musculoskeletal support systems, particularly in Japan's healthcare sector. Daiya's success stems from a cultural emphasis on communal well-being and innovative solutions driven by societal needs. With a focus on preventive medicine and product diversification, Daiya addresses the challenges posed by Japan's aging population while also tapping into global market opportunities. 

HIROKI MATSUO, PRESIDENT OF DAIYA INDUSTRY CO., LTD.
HIROKI MATSUO | PRESIDENT OF DAIYA INDUSTRY CO., LTD.

When looking at the healthcare industry in Japan, the country is creating solutions that are world-renowned in musculoskeletal support systems with major brands providing solutions to those who cannot walk easily. When we look at musculoskeletal treatment-related companies, we see major companies such as Hitachi, Fujifilm, and Toshiba among the main brands supporting this field. Why do you believe that Japanese firms have been so successful in this very niche field, especially when it comes to the healthcare industry as a whole?

This is a difficult question to answer, but various companies are taking on various projects. I think this approach is inherent in the mindset of Japanese people; taking care of people both in mind and body. Rather than growing a company bigger, Japanese people are more focused on making others happy. There is a communal mindset where we all work together, and I think this mindset is the result of the number of natural disasters our country has been subjected to. We wouldn’t be able to survive these disasters without helping each other. I think you can see that there is a clear focus on caring for others before ourselves.



Japan’s aging population is putting a lot of pressure on public finances through the rise of social security expenses. As such, efforts are being made to reduce medical expenses by shifting from a treatment model to a more preventative model. How is your company working to reduce the pressure with social security and reach this preventative model?

In Japan, the idea of increasing people’s healthy lifespan is important. People here want to avoid being bedridden in a hospital before they die and therefore they look to stay physically fit. To that end, enhancing peoples’ physical abilities is a critical part of our business.

Rather than going to general hospitals, it is better to have somewhere where people can consult with experts easily, and this applies not only to elderly people but young people too. This kind of clinic in Japan is almost like chiropractor clinics but is more specialist than those traditionally are. The clinics are operated by nationally licensed doctors and are relatively good size to have a good relationship with their communities. I also would say that it is easier to talk to the specialists at these kinds of clinics. I believe that this kind of place would lead to a decrease in medical costs and it is how we would like to support in this regard.

 

Worldwide there are more and more musculoskeletal problems and this market was valued at USD 4.8 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 6.4 billion by 2028. How is your firm foreseeing the next 12 months for this business and what do you believe will be the main growth drivers in the near future?

I attended the CES show in the US this year and there we showcased our new power suit. Many people evaluated our product and technology very highly. One thing we noticed was that because of the JPY depreciation, Japanese products have now become quite affordable for international customers. For the next 12 months, we would like to make efforts to appeal to overseas customers for them to take advantage of the current economic situation and purchase our products. This is not only for the US and European markets but also in mainland Asia too.

 

Your company was established back in 1963 and you started by supplying medical corsets before then finding solutions for the entire body. You now provide preventive solutions as well as regenerative solutions. Towards that end, you’ve developed three different brands with each of them having a specific focus. Among all of the fields in, which you are supporting your brands, which one do you believe has the most potential for future growth?

Our basis revolves around people who have musculoskeletal system concerns and we design products to take care of them. However, despite this basis, we do see growth potential within the preventive medicine field. Additionally, we do see potential in catering to athletes or power suits for athletes as well as exoskeletons for certain occupations. Furthermore, there is a need for musculoskeletal suits for some people who are suffering from back problems in order for them to enjoy their daily lives.

One thing I would like to mention is that this month we attended an exhibition for workmen, and we were able to showcase our products a pelvic belt system integrated into trousers. When the product is worn inside a pair of trousers the workers can do their job without having to worry about lower back problemspain. It is affordable and we believe that by collaborating with other companies we could spread this trend and educate people on the beneficial points of our products. We hope that our products can help people all around the world relieve themselves of lower back problems.

 

One of your key products is your Double Gear Belt. Could you tell us what ergonomic features you have designed within your Double Gear Belt to cater to a wide range of customers needing medical assistance?

We renewed this product a while ago. The previous product was too complicated for elderly people to wear so we had to realize the functional upside as well as simplify it. For the functional side, we have an R&D center where we can check the conditions of people with support and without support. We can also measure the difference in output from the user’s muscles, basically allowing us to make sure of the functional side. To make sure the product is simple enough we ask those that aren’t familiar with support products to try and wear the product. Through this interaction, we can understand the points of concern, essentially the areas where it is difficult to wear the suit or take it off. If people can figure it out by themselves then we believe we have hit the sweet spot, if not then we need to keep working on our designs.

 

Your company provides various gear to support body movement for work and rehabilitation. A great example of this is your Power Assist Glove, which allows artificial muscles to mimic muscle contractions. This is not powered by electricity, but rather by air and rubber power which doesn’t require any charge as well as the long-term use of the product. How were you able to achieve the simulation of human muscle concentration by using artificial muscles? What advantages and trade-offs do your Power Assist Gloves have when compared to electric powered similar solutions?

There are two types; powered and non-powered. The advantages of the non-powered type are the lightweight and durable design as well as the removal of a battery. This battery-less design allows for a better and closer fit to the body. On the other hand, the big trade-off is the power output that can be achieved without a battery.

The power type is heavy and expensive, but it allows for better control from the user. By combining these two types we have developed a pump shoe where air can be retained and battery power can be used together. This pump shoe is not heavy, yet is still durable. One other factor that we’ve heard is that this glove is hard to wear during the summer. We’ve made efforts to minimize the heat that users feel when wearing the gear.

 

Not only are you assisting elderly people and manual laborers, but also surgeons during operations. Surgeons are known to sometimes work in operating rooms for hours, yet need to retain concentration and precision throughout. Can you tell us about the specific features of your suits for surgeons that allow them to maintain full concentration during long operational procedures?

As the population continues to age, doctors will become more precious. Maintaining the performance of those doctors for a long time is very important. We have asked doctors about their concerns and have provided products that cater to such requests. The focus has been on products that do not interfere with the technologies of doctors, meaning that the surgeon suit is more about helping surgeons concentrate rather than providing them with power. These products enable doctors to optimize their performance, so therefore fitting, aiding, and providing functions while allowing wearers to use the suit for longer periods are the main focus.

 

Your TPECNOC brand is supporting gamers with features covering the wrists, shoulders, and calves as well. A key to this brand is the idea of creating technologies that reduce the lack of movement's impact on the body during long gaming sessions. How do you maintain a high level of comfort for esports players with your TPECNOC brand and what synergies are you able to leverage with your other brands?

I have a passion for esports, and like any other sport, I have a desire to enable anyone, from healthy people to people with disabilities to play. There is a need not only for physical support but also mental support. We have designed products that esports athletes want to wear and we refer to it as Gaming Armor. All people can play together, allowing all to feel happy and content. Our mission is to make people happy with our products at the end of the day.

In terms of synergies, as we discussed earlier we have a product known as the Double Gear Belt. Not only does it tighten a user's posture but it also brings muscles together. It improves the posture of the user even further. E-sports players have to sit for a very long time with a posture that leans forward. When wearing the belt they can improve their seating position Additionally, since esports athletes sit for such long periods they can often have problems with circulation. By combining our technologies we can support their circulation as well as their posture. These technologies are incorporated into our Gaming Armor.


 


Throughout many of our interviews, we often hear how important collaboration and co-creation are to unlocking international markets and developing new products. What role do partnerships play in your business model and are you currently looking for any new partnerships in overseas markets?

We are always looking for the right partner for our company, and honestly speaking, finding the correct partner is very tricky. What we value is that if a partner's values align with ours. Of course, we are interested in business growth, but there is no sense in business growth unless it is sustainable. A partner of ours would have to have a strong desire to make customers happy.

 

Are you looking for distributors in international markets and what other strategies are you looking to leverage to expand more overseas?

First and foremost, we are a manufacturer, so we are looking for distributors. We are seeking one company per country that shares similar values to ours. Of course, this approach is not easy and there are still some challenges for us to overcome. Now is the time to strike, however, due to the depreciated JPY our products are actually price competitive. We are looking to go overseas in the near future in both a positive and proactive manner.

Once our business gets bigger we may think about establishing a joint venture. A potential location may be Vietnam since that country is seeing a lot of growth. Also, some of our employees would like to go overseas so this would be an opportunity for them to conduct business in a country outside of Japan.

 

If you could summarize your business and its global impact in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

We are the kind of company that can produce products that can help disabled people who have become wheelchair users due to accidents. When we interviewed those in wheelchairs, 100% of the people we interviewed wanted to experience walking again. With our musculoskeletal support technology, we have given those people the chance to experience walking once again, something that they may have thought they would never do again. After walking again, the patients were brought to tears because they were so happy. Making such products is something we are very proud of. If we can continue to develop products like this our company is fulfilling its mission to bring happiness to society. I think if I were to summarize, “Daiya makes the impossible possible.”

 


For more details, explore their website at https://en.daiyak.co.jp/ 

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