Japanese airline ANA spins out telepresence-bot startup for virus-avoiding medicos and fearful tourists

Imagine an iPad running FaceTime clamped to a post stuck into a Roomba and you'll get the idea

Japanese airline ANA has spun out a startup to develop and sell “avatars” - robots that comprise a remote-controllable stand with iPad-like device running a Facetime-like app, to bring your face into a room.

ANA has been working on something similar since around 2016 and clearly thinks the time is now to graduate the idea from its labs into a startup. It’s found ¥200m (US$1.8m £1.5m) to hurry things along.

As the airline’s machine-translated announcement says: “To respond to the urgent issue of the new coronavirus, we will give priority to the proprietary and widely used communication avatar "Newme" for medical facilities that require remote communication.”

“We have already begun to provide services to some university hospitals and medical corporations ahead of time. However, we hope to provide more services as needed to help medical professionals who are on the front line. In the future, we plan to use avatars as social infrastructure to develop services that can be used for various purposes such as medical care, nursing care, education, shopping, appreciation, and tourism.”

And of course the new company, named “avatarin”, has a very StartupLand mission statement: “To create a future where all people can connect beyond all limits such as distance, time, cost and body.”

ANA has discussed this idea before in the context of virtual tourism, and even suggested that it could have product in market during 2020.

avatarin’s site suggest it is ready to roll.

ANA yesterday announced a slew of new flight cancellations and like other airlines faces an uncertain future. Perhaps avatarin will help it to find new sources of revenue. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022