Honorary Mention STARTS PRIZE ’22
„The café was highly rated for its inclusive approach to solving social issues by creating a secure space and a community. We also have great expectations for its future aim toward a world where people can care for themselves in an era of accelerating super-aging society.“
Excerpt from the statement of the jury
People can visit the Dawn Avatar Robot Café, where users work and visit via robots. Users can seek employment via the company’s Avatar Guild staffing agency, thus remaining active in society.
The goal is to show that with the right tools, even people who have difficulty in moving about freely can do physical labor and customer service from the comfort of their homes via an avatar robot. For those who can’t go outside due to the physical/psychological challenges of diseases, past accidents, or the likes OriHime creates another means of physical expression and action. OriHime is operated remotely by “pilots”, who interact with the world outside through the robots’ cameras, speakers, and microphone. In this way, the robots offer virtual outings even for paralyzed pilots, who use a line-of-sight input device to speak with others.
The creation of OriHime was largely motivated by the personal experiences of Ory Yoshifuji, CEO of Ory Lab. Health issues kept him away from elementary school for 3 ½ years, making it so unbearably lonely that life hardly seemed worth living.
Even now, just the idea of relapsing into this kind of isolation is harrowing. This despairing notion urged him to prepare, exploring how loneliness can be eased, leading to the development of avatar robots, a way to feel human connection despite the physical or psychological state. Ory Yoshifuji, who designed a wheelchair while in high school, sees avatar robots as wheelchairs for the user’s heart.
Rather than conventional robots, Ory Lab designs robots that convey the sense of presence—“We’d like to give users possibilities that can lead to friendships and fulfilling roles in society despite physical barriers. For myself as well, one day when I’m no longer able to move around freely, I’d like to be ready. That’s our goal with OriHime—our vision of how to abolish people’s loneliness.”
Ory Lab Inc. https://orylab.com/en/#about
OYAMATSU Design Studio https://oyamatsu.co.jp/en/index.html
NTT Corporation, https://group.ntt/en/corporate/overview
Biogen Japan Ltd. https://www.biogen.co.jp
Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., https://www.mitsuifudosan.co.jp/english/corporate/about_us/outline
Charity by crowdfunding ”CAMPFIRE” by 2156ppl ¥44,587,000, https://camp-fire.jp/projects/view/405051
The STARTS Prize has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 956603.