Besides developing OriHime and OriHime-D, which users regardless of age, gender, or disability can remotely operate, Ory Lab has created 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.”
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
Ory Yoshifuji (JP) At the age of 17, after three and a half years of social isolation, he decided to devote his life to the elimination of human loneliness, and in 2010 he revealed OriHime, a robot that is an avatar (another body), a tool to abolish loneliness and enable social participation even when it is difficult to go out. Since then he has helped to form roles for people who have lost contact with society and were isolated, and ways of employment at companies that want to hire people with disabilities, resulting in many of them getting jobs at private companies and public offices.
To have one’s own role in society and to be appreciated and relied upon by others, with or without a disability: these are the reasons for one’s existence and the meaning of life that everyone desires. And everyone wishes to control their own life as much as possible until the very end. Ory Yoshifuji developed the avatar robot OriHime with the theme of “the end of loneliness” as the theme of his own life, and carefully repeated prototyping to meet the user’s motives. OriHime has brought a social body to people with disabilities and a place to operate a café that was not an algorithm-generated healing space, but a space that connected living people with each other. The café also employs 60 physically challenged people and is a social home for the avatar pilots, who are also co-developers of the avatar robot, where there is no distinction at all between healthy and physically challenged people. It is a place full of warmth where guests come to enjoy conversation with avatar and delicious food. The café is a place where people are constantly laughing, where OriHime pilots and visitors exchange more human-like banter than human beings, and where the joy of people is shared. 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.