Back in February (2021) when Club House was at hype, of course I joined and few people I felt instant connection in sense of humanity, sustainability and understands success is not just about money making but greater, Ken Endo san was one of them. He is a leader, entrepreneur, innovator and above all he is humble, he is #MySmartCookie and I must share his journey of how he has become. An engineer instead of making programs that can make him billion bucks, instead he used his knowledge and built a prothesis for his friend who battled cancer and since then promoting the world of inclusivity and how he believes tech can help human activities, and how we as fashion industry should be more inclusive. He is the CEO of Xiborg, Xiborg is a Japan-based start-up company specialising in prosthetic limbs for runners. It is currently developing new high-performance artificial limbs in consultation with world-class athletes participating in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic literally just started, I had great pleasure to interview Mr. Ken Endo to share his journey and vision.
KF: I watched your Ted talk (more than 10 times now) and your friend Kazuhiro Yoshikawa and Professor Hugh Herr inspired you to design the prothetic limbs, however I wanted to take a step back as I am particularly interested in a person’s journey, were you always interested in being a engineer at very young age? What was your first dream job?
KE: I collected insects around our home. (cicada, beetle, grasshopper, whatever I could capture). I was interested in their great intelligence and locomotion with their limited brain. In middle school, I was a kid who was interested in sports, especially basketball. And I think I was not talented but I liked to study science and math in school. My first dream job was to be an insect researcher.
KF: Out of all the science and innovation right now, what excites you the most in relation to prothesis and orthosis for athletes?
KE: Currently, almost all people think disabled people always lose if they compete with the normal. But actually, they’re just missing technology and opportunity to maximize their potential. Sports is one of the most understandable examples. Running prosthesis is just a tool but it can enable amputees to run, which could break our common sense, which is fun for me.
KF: With innovation and technology, how do you see the wider population can be served and helped in the future with prosthetic, orthotic limbs?
KE: Due to disability, many people are just missing their opportunities to do many things, or even have fun. For example, a leg amputee tends to miss their opportunities to run fast. An arm amputee tends to miss their opportunity to pick fruits. A subject with palsy tends to miss their opportunity to travel around. I’m a strong tech believer and I believe technology could be one of the solutions for them to pursue their happiness.
I’m a strong tech believer and I believe technology could be on of the solutions for people to pursue their happiness.
KF: What is your vision for Xiborg? How will it revolutionise the world of sports?
KE: Xiborg vision is to spotlight human’s possibility which has been ignored with technology implementation, and explore the whole new value of human beings. and what we can do is to democratise a running blade such that any amputee can enjoy running. Running is one of the easiest sports for us, and amputation disabled people to run.
KF: Fashion – as you work with many para-athletes, please share your view on how the fashion industry can involve more if the industry can be more inclusive.
KE: One of the biggest boundaries of new tech implementation is people’s common sense. I think humans are quite bad at accepting whole new things. But fashion shows on the runway are always spreading many things which we have never seen, and I love this culture a lot. I think fashion is one of the key to change our way of thinking about disability.
KF: Lastly, nothing to do with business – how do you relax? And what is your favourite food?
KE: I still like to play basketball. I’m so relaxed when I play basketball with my friend. Also sharing time with our family is also inevitable for me.
I love sushi and curry rice.
Xiborg also has this amazing Blade Library (Blade for All) for everyone and anyone, especially children, to try on protheses for only $9 a day, Endo san and his team want to make this as affordable as possible so everyone can enjoy their daily life including sports. (reference Reuters)
After my interview, I was on a mission to talk to as many designers possible and to understand how brands can be more inclusive in design process as well as brand presentation, while I am still sharing this, I am also pleased to see Vogue Italia started a series of inclusivity shoots with British photographer David PD Hyde, here is the link to see his brilliant work and we still need more projects to show how disabilities can be simply helped and everyone is beautiful.
Personally I am on the same wave length with Endo san, I truly believe if we, meaning every industry leaders, all put our heads together, from fashion campaign to home environment design to now health and medical points, everyone should have a chance to live how they wish to, and maybe like Mr. Endo said, one day Para-athlete may run faster because the tech is more advanced than human natural abilities!
早在今年 2 月 Club House 火紅的時候，我就加入玩玩，大部分的房大肆炫耀個人財富，很少有人讓我感受到人性、可持續性和了解成功不是只會賺錢，而是身心靈的持續成長，而在遠藤 謙先生交流過程中我很快發現他是一位領導者、企業家、創新者，最重要的是他很謙虛，他是#MySmartCookie，我決定必須分享他的成長歷程。作為一名工程師，他沒有編寫可以讓他賺到十億美元的程序，而是利用自己的知識為與癌症作鬥爭的朋友製作了一個假肢，從那時起促進了包容性世界，他相信科技技術可以幫助人類活動，以及我們如何作為時尚產業應該更具包容性。他是 Xiborg 的 CEO，Xiborg 是一家總部位於日本的初創公司，專門為跑步者提供假肢。目前，它正在與參加 2020 年東京殘奧會的世界級運動員協商開發新型高性能假肢。
ＫＦ：我看了你的 Ted 演講（現在已經超過 10 次了），你的朋友吉川和弘和 Hugh Herr 教授啟發了你設計假肢，但是我想退後一步，因為我對一個人的旅程特別感興趣，是您在很小的時候就一直有興趣成為一名工程師嗎？你第一份夢想的工作是什麼？
ＫＦ： 您對 Xiborg 的願景是什麼？它將如何徹底改變體育界？
ＫＥ： Xiborg的願景是聚焦在技術實施中被忽視的人類可能性，探索人類的全新價值。我們能做的就是讓跑步刀片民主化，這樣任何 截肢者可以享受跑步。跑步對我們來說是最簡單的運動之一，截肢殘疾人也可以跑步。
ＫＦ： 時尚 – 當您與許多殘疾人運動員一起工作時，請分享您對時尚行業如何可以更多地參與的看法，如果該行業可以更具包容性。
Xiborg 還擁有這個令人驚嘆的 Blade Library（Blade for All），供所有人和任何人，尤其是兒童，每天只需 9 美元即可試戴假肢，遠藤先生和他的團隊希望盡可能降低成本，這樣每個人都可以享受日常生活包括運動。 （參考路透社）
採訪結束後，我的任務是與盡可能多的設計師交談，並了解品牌如何在設計過程和品牌展示中更具包容性，在我仍在分享這一點的同時，我也很高興看到 Vogue Italia 開始了與英國攝影師 David PD Hyde 合作拍攝的一系列包容性照片，這是查看他出色作品的鏈接，我們仍然需要更多項目來展示如何簡單地幫助殘疾以及每個人都是美麗的。