BARRIER-FREE DINING – ROBOTS BRING DISABILITY WORKERS ‘NEW LIFE’ THROUGH FUTURISTIC EMPLOYMENT

Written by J.L.Ruston

A new dawn is surely upon us……..

With a lot of people carrying the burden of ‘Will a robot take my job?’. DAWN cafe in Nihonbashi district, Tokyo, Japan, is showing us how we can use new technology to make workplaces more inclusive with a revolutionary “barrier-free” approach.

If you dine at DAWN cafe, you’ll be greeted and seated, wined and dined by a sweet robot who is being remotely controlled by a human or ‘pilot’. The pilot is who you’ll be interacting with, discussing specials and any questions you have. The human on the other side will communicate through the robot to make sure your order is exactly how you like it.

Image- DAWN cafe

Why not just hire a human? You might be asking.

DAWN stands for Diverse Avatar Working Network.

The OriHime and OriHime-D bots serve as opportunities for people living with disabilities that would otherwise eliminate them from most working industries. According to the recent health ministry of Japan, more than 7% of people are living with a disability. That’s more than 877,5000 people! Sensing that there were high odds stacked against a high number of people, Ory Laboratory opened its doors with ambitions of “promoting social inclusion by providing jobs for people with mobility issues, family responsibilities, and other barriers that make it difficult to take conventional employment.” All you need is an internet connection and away you go. Over 60 people are working for DAWN cafe. The technology allows you to control anything with only the movement of your eyes and with a large number of employees being confirmed bedridden, this is surely an opportunity not like most.

Image - DAWN cafe

Why not just hire a human? You might be asking.

DAWN stands for Diverse Avatar Working Network.

The OriHime and OriHime-D bots serve as opportunities for people living with disabilities that would otherwise eliminate them from most working industries. According to the recent health ministry of Japan, more than 7% of people are living with a disability. That’s more than 877,5000 people! Sensing that there were high odds stacked against a high number of people, Ory Laboratory opened its doors with ambitions of “promoting social inclusion by providing jobs for people with mobility issues, family responsibilities, and other barriers that make it difficult to take conventional employment.” All you need is an internet connection and away you go. Over 60 people are working for DAWN cafe. The technology allows you to control anything with only the movement of your eyes and with a large number of employees being confirmed bedridden, this is surely an opportunity not like most.

Keiko Hamaguchi, the public relations manager for Ory laboratory describes the first thought that led to such revolutionary freedom.

“Our CEO’s secretary, Yuta Banda, suffered from a cervical spinal cord injury when he was four and was working remotely for us through OriHime. One day our CEO jokingly asked him for a cup of coffee and his reply was, ‘Make me a robot that can do that and I will.’ So, in 2016, Ory Laboratory started developing OriHime-D, focusing on physical labour,”

The CEO of Ory Laboratory himself, Kentaro Yoshifuji, had an isolating experience when he was in and out of the hospital on and off for three years. It was after this time, of realising the misconception between society and both disabled workers and telecommuting.

He explains; “The reality is that it is difficult for people with severe disabilities and who have little social experience to suddenly start working unless they have past work experience or have qualifications.”

Image - DAWN cafe

Each robot stands a quaint 3 ft 11 and is ready to get down and dirty with the physical labour side of the job. They have been reviewed to make fantastic cups of coffee on the spot and they can even all roll into the backroom during break time and have a chat with each other which provides massive new social opportunities to the operators. People from all over Japan can be hired seeing as it’s remote work and with the help of Ipads, the human on the other side can see and communicate with customers as themselves, still applying that gentle human and familiar touch to the dining service.

With high reports of pilots having a huge boost in their attitude towards life, it fuels bright enthusiasm in the homes of thousands who are restricted to it.

Anything can be used for good or for bad. It’s up to us to channel the compassion we have for our friends and family into the world so that the uncertainties of the future can bear an optimistic, wholesome, and eagerly awaited becoming.

CEO Keiko said; “We have heard words such as ‘I feel as if I have been reborn’ from more people than we had ever expected. We ourselves have realised that people, no matter what their circumstances, can gain confidence and change greatly when they feel that they can be of use to others.”

There is SO MUCH freedom when operating the OriHime-D. Pilots can adapt the eyes of the robot to the colour they are feeling that day and request to be suited up for special festive occasions. As a customer, you can chat with the robot as if you’re just talking to a normal human…..because you are. Creating a surreal ‘now the future really is here’ unique dining experience.

To learn about the people operating the avatars, follow this link and prepare to have your cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

Incredible use of morale-backed innovation and an inspiration to business owners in the future.

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