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

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

Accelerating a more sustainable industrial revolution with digital manufacturing

Politics still matter in the US but not in Europe

International data flows: Commission launches the adoption of its adequacy decision on Japan

European banking stress tests 2014: A more adverse approach for a shorter banking sector

UN-led Yemen ceasefire monitoring team gets ready to begin operations

Why private investment in deforestation-free commodity production needs to be scaled up

Anti-terror measures against youngsters’ online posts ‘linked to spike in child detention globally’

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

Antisemitism, intolerance, can be unlearned, Guterres tells New York commemoration

President Juncker temporarily transfers portfolio responsibilities following departure of two Members of the European Commission

EU-US to miss 2015 deadline and even lose Germany’s support in TTIP’s darkest week yet

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

Entrepreneurship’s key to success showcased by a serial young entrepreneur

The EU resumes budget support assistance to the Republic of Moldova

Let us keep ‘their spirit of service alive’: Guterres leads tributes to UN workers who died in Ethiopia crash

This is how music festivals are tackling plastic waste

A young doctor from Glasgow reports: in the UK refugees are left to rot

One good reason to feel less blue about the future of our oceans

The European Parliament wants to stay in one place

World Health Organisation and medical students: is there any room for improvement?

What cryptocurrencies will do to the integrity of politics

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

Guatemala: UN anti-corruption body will continue working, as Constitutional Court blocks Government expulsion

This forgotten chemical element could be the key to our green energy future

‘Bleakest period yet’ in Occupied Palestinian Territory: UN human rights expert

Fleeing violence, Cameroonian refugee arrivals in Nigeria pass 30,000, reports UN refugee agency

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

‘Multiplicity’ of rights violations in Ukraine as fifth winter of conflict bites

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

Why the agtech boom isn’t your typical tech disruption

World Mental Health Day is a chance to listen to those with the condition – the biggest experts of all

EU legislation protecting home buyers approved in Parliament

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Palestine refugees’ relief chief warns Security Council money to fund Gaza operations will run out in mid-June

Girls still being treated as aliens in medicine in the 21st century

US-North Korea summit ‘an important milestone’ towards denuclearization, says Guterres

Mental health at stake: A silent epidemic of 21st century

How China Mended My Heart

Over $39 million earmarked by UN-backed fund to combat effects of climate change in Nepal

How India is solving its cooling challenge

Transparency is key to inclusive employment and government integrity

How drones can manage the food supply chain and tell you if what you eat is sustainable

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast: IOM

India is failing 175 million of its young people. Here’s the solution

UN commission agrees roadmap on ensuring women’s social protection, mobility, safety, and access to economic opportunities

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

Environmental labelling, information and management schemes are central to the circular economy

MWC 2016 LIVE: Qualcomm looks to pick up Hamilton’s winning ways

French election: Will France vote for a reformed or no EU?

Why philanthropy for – and by – Africans is the future

Data show EU Economy in a stubbornly subdued state

The megatrend that will shape our working future

Healing of ozone layer gives hope for climate action: UN report

Why we need artists who strive for social change

Getting African Women into the Boardroom

How start-ups will lead India through the Fourth Industrial Revolution

UN climate summit aims to speed up transition to cleaner, greener future

Industrial producer prices on free fall and stagnant output

How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy

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