Avatar Robots to Communicate with Tourists in Tokyo

Avatar Robots to Communicate with Tourists, Making Tokyo More Accessible

ANA Holding will test its ‘newme’ Avatar platform at the JNTO TIC (Japan National Tourism Organization Tourist Information Center) in the heart of Tokyo.

The JNTO TIC regularly receives tourists from all over the world, and the newme robots will make it possible for JNTO TIC staff to communicate and answer questions from a remote location. Testing will take place from Feb. 26-28, 2020.

“The goal of ANA’s avatar initiative is to eliminate the barriers of physical distance to make remote communication more valuable and to allow everyone to share experiences more democratically,” said Kevin Kajitani, Co-Director of ANA HD’s Avatar Division. “By harnessing the connective potential of robotic avatars, we aim to make Tokyo more accessible to tourists. These tests will be an important step in deploying this promising technology at scale in the real world. We are excited to partner with Mitsubishi Estate to make this test possible.”

By allowing JNTO TIC staff to communicate with tourists from a remote location, the newme robots will make it possible to keep the information center open for longer hours and even on days when logistical challenges (such as train delays or adverse weather) make it difficult for staff to be present on-site. The upcoming tests will determine how best to employ the newme platform to achieve these goals.

The newme robots will be tested alongside LS Mini technology developed by Live Smart, a company Mitsubishi Estate has invested in. This technology allows for the automation of basic home tasks, even those that once required a physical presence to perform. Results from these tests will reveal the degree to which basic service-oriented tasks can be automated and the degree to which real-world avatars can increase the efficiency of JNTO TIC’s operations.

ANA HD will continue looking for ways to employ its innovative technology to increase connectivity and decrease barriers to limitless communication and shared experiences.

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