The Dawn Avatar Robot Cafe in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, aspires to make Tokyo more barrier-free and inclusive by providing more work possibilities for individuals with disabilities who operate robot avatars remotely.
Since 2018, the pop-up café Dawn Avatar Cafe has provided persons with disabilities with the opportunity to work as cafe workers by remotely operating OriHime, a robot server created by Ory Laboratories. OryLab has now launched a permanent cafe in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, which also acts as its flagship shop, following numerous successful pop-up cafes that drew over 5,000 visitors.
Since 2012, Ory Laboratories has been on a quest to “reduce humanity’s loneliness” by working with people with impairments to give them with possibilities to socialise and work normally. After being bedridden for three years, co-founder and CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji sought to create a remote-controlled robot avatar.
The OriHime-D robots are created in this manner. They stand 120 cm tall and are equipped with a camera, microphone, and speaker to connect with consumers when taking or serving orders. They are controlled remotely via the internet using basic eye motions or gestures, and they serve as avatars for employees who are unable to leave their homes due to health issues. Those with physical impairments, such as elderly, are not the only ones who can operate the robots; even those who must stay at home owing to childcare may work as cafe workers.
The earlier pop-up shops mainly sold drinks, but this permanent café will eventually provide seasonal cuisine. A burger, curry, poke rice dish, salad, a special kids curry plate, and a seasonally appropriate dessert are all on the menu. To completely optimise the area for the robots, there are several sorts of chairs to sit on, power supply, and a big monitor with a fixed point camera within the café. The OriHime avatars come with a variety of eye colours to make them simpler to recognise, and the café workers can select the colour that best suits their mood.
If you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee, proceed to the bar and Tele-Barista area, where waiters use another version of OriHime to prepare coffee. You may select your favourite coffee and chocolate while seeing the coffee being prepared and presented right in front of your eyes. Meanwhile, visitors may enjoy light meals such as coffee and sandwiches in the cafe lounge. It’s a good location to study and unwind because the seats have power outlets and WiFi is accessible.
Because the business is run by disabled people, you can expect it to be barrier-free and accessible. The conductors, fixtures, and furniture have all been built with wheelchair users in mind, and both stretcher and motorised wheelchairs are welcome. Others are invited to be accompanied by assistant helpers. A barrier-free toilet with an ostomate (assistance bed) is built in the shop, and power may be hired for charging medical equipment such as respirators and electric wheelchairs.