In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities


Robots 2019

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


A pop-up restaurant in Tokyo has run a trial employing disabled people to work as waiting staff. But this is no ordinary trial. Instead of taking orders or clearing tables themselves, the staff of the Dawn ver.β cafe were piloting a team of robots from the comfort of their homes.

The robots were developed by Kentaro “Ory” Yoshifuji, CEO of the Ory Lab, which he set up with co-founders, Aki Yuki and Yoshifumi Shiiba. The remote-controlled OriHime-D robots are part of on an ongoing project to use technology to combat social isolation. They stand 1.2 metres tall and have expressionless, white faces reminiscent of Japanese Noh masks. They transmit video and audio back to their controllers, who are able to direct them from home via a smartphone or tablet.

The cafe is named after a similar establishment in a 2008 anime called Time of Eve, where robots and humans co-exist as equals. The addition of ver.β (beta) to the cafe’s name was there to show it was a work in progress – a beta version.

Five OriHime-D robots were used during the trial, and they were controlled by a team of 10 people, with a range of conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common motor-neuron disease. They were all paid 1000 yen ($8) per hour, which is just above the minimum wage in Japan.

 Chips on the side: OriHime-D at work taking food orders.

Chips on the side: OriHime-D at work taking food orders.
Image: Ori Research Institute

Even people with very limited mobility are able to interact with and control OriHime-D robots. Ory Labs has created a video showing how a man who is only able to move his eyes can still operate the robot, and another where a man in a hospital bed gets an OriHime-D to hand a cup of coffee to a waiting Yoshifuji.

Yoshifuji has an impressive track record as an inventor with an interest in using technology for good. Between the ages of 10 and 14 he did not attend school due to poor health and went on to represent Japan in the 2005 Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), with a project designed to help wheelchairs climb curbs. It was the years he spent missing out on school that ultimately led to the development of OriHime, which he sees as a way to help people overcome adversity and disability to actively participate in society through the use of avatars.

There are 75 million people in the world who need a wheelchair but only 5% to 15% of those in need actually have access to one. Globally, there are an estimated 200 million visually impaired people and 466 million people with hearing loss who aren’t able to access help. But in recent years, the topic of assistive technology has started to attract more attention.

A recent hackathon event in Sheffield in the UK, called Hackcessible, was focused on the development of tools and devices to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. The winning project was a system that scans sheet music and feeds it into an iPad so it can be more easily read by someone with a visual impairment.

 

Researchers at MIT in the US are working on a device that allows people to talk to computers silently. Called the AlterEgo, this wearable device uses electrodes to detect subtle neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are essentially triggered by saying things to yourself.

While there are still many accessibility barriers technology can be used to break down, the use of robots is already underway in some situations. The Shin-tomi nursing home in Tokyo has around 20 different robots in use performing different aspects of residents’ care, from leading exercise sessions to powering interactive soft toys.

Following the Dawn ver.β trial, the OriHime team hope to secure funding to open the cafe permanently in the near future.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Chart of the day: When do young Europeans leave home?

COP25: MEPs push for CO2 neutrality by 2050

Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Frank Molter

EU hits deadlock on the future of glyphosate a month before deadline

Youth unemployment: No light at the end of the tunnel

Planet’s Health is Our Health and the Reverse is True

EU deal on electricity market rules to benefit both consumers and environment

MEPs take stock of the EU’s foreign, security and defence policy priorities

Remembering slave trade offers chance to raise awareness, ‘oppose all forms of modern slavery’ – UNESCO

Draghi left alone with no hope of boosting EU growth as Merkel just focuses on next elections

Protests, violence in Haiti prompts international call for ‘realistic and lasting solutions’ to crisis

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, during a recent press conference in Brussels / Berlaymont. (Copyright: EU, 2018 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart)

EU opens investigation into Qatar Petroleum over potentially restrictive gas contracts

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

On Youth Education: “Just a normal day in the life of a medical student”

3 ways governments and carmakers can keep up with the future of transport

Why will Paris upcoming “loose” climate change agreement work better than the previous ones?

Commission launches new edition of the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2019

The Tears of lovely Memories

Human rights on film: International festival celebrates mobile phone films for a cause

Which country offers the cheapest mobile data?

Weather reports could soon be telling us about the role of climate change

Solidarity needed to overcome ‘isolated’ attacks on Venezuela refugees, migrants

Court of Auditors: EU budget money is there to be spent not to create value

EU’s new sanctions on Russia into force “in the next few days”: strength, weakness or strategy?

‘BioSolar Leaves’ are better at cleaning the air than trees, say the technology’s developers

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

GSMA Mobile 360 – MENA Dubai on 26-27 November 2019, in association with The European Sting

A Sting Exclusive: “Junior Enterprises themselves carry out projects focusing on the environment”, JADE President Daniela Runchi highlights from Brussels

There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

African cities will double in population by 2050. Here are 4 ways to make sure they thrive

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

Window for a Brexit deal: Brussels to think again May’s proposal

Merkel, Mercedes and Volkswagen to abolish European democracy

Why good cybersecurity in business is everyone’s responsibility

EU Parliament: No EU-US trade agreement without safe data

Towards the new era of medicine

Scotland in United Kingdom: It’s either the end or the beginning of the end

Newly displaced fleeing attacks in northeast Nigeria, top 2,000

Women’s empowerment ‘essential to global progress’ says Guterres, marking International Day

Single-use plastics: New EU rules to reduce marine litter

The Parliament defies a politically biased Banking Union

Education remains an impossible dream for many refugees and migrants

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

3 ways AI will change the nature of cyber attacks

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

Time to make a fundamental choice about the future of healthcare

My experience living with depression and schizophrenia in Thailand

Australia wildfires: communities must stay vigilant, urges UN weather agency

Eurozone’s sovereign debt not a problem anymore?

UN policewoman recognized for ‘speaking up and speaking out’ on behalf of the vulnerable

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

UN Chief ‘strongly rejects’ Guatemala decision to expel anti-corruption body

EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam: enabling young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe

Franchise India 2016, returns in 14th year 

The true EU unemployment rate may have soared to 21.9%

You might soon be travelling without a passport – this is how

EU announces record €550 million contribution to save 16 million lives from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

A profitability roadmap for the fast-changing automotive sector

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s