Dawn: Tokyo’s Innovative Avatar Cafe

Though the standard line in terms of machine-job integration has been “the robots are taking your jobs!” this is not true in relation to Dawn (Diverse Avatar Working Network) ver.β, a peculiar cafe (open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) located in Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, which is staffed by humanoid robots. Unlike the automatons at contemporary factories, the robots of Dawn are ‘avatars’ which are controlled by disabled workers who, shorn of their mechanical incarnations, would find it difficult to work and interface with broader society.

OriHime-D delivering pastries to a patron.

The four-foot tall robot-avatars, developed by the start-up Ory, are referred to as OriHime-D and are operated by individuals with severe mobility impairments (such as ALS) who control them from the comfort of their homes. As the beta in the name suggests, the current iteration of the cafe is a trial run that ends Dec. 7 with a full opening in 2020.

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