Shop Remotely This Christmas with Avatar Robots in Japan

The holiday season is here and with that comes the dreaded holiday shopping. Before you even get to the store, you’ll have to make it through the traffic and then hope you can find a parking spot. Of course, once you get there, you’ll encounter massive crowds and long lines. What if you could send someone(or something) to the stores in your place?

Japanese airline company ANA Holdings Inc. has recently opened the world’s first store where you can shop remotely through a robot avatar. It’s a collaboration with department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. The store is located at the COREDO Muromachi 3  shopping mall in Tokyo’s Nihombashi district and will be open through Christmas.

Newme Avatar Robot Shopping - YellRobot
credit: ANA Holdings Inc.

Newme Avatar Shopping Robot Can Be Controlled Remotely From Anywhere in Japan

The robot’s name is Newme and is powered by core-service platform avatar-in. It stands about 5 feet tall and rolls around on two wheels up to speeds of 2 mph. Collision detection makes sure the robot won’t bang into any human employees or other robots in the store.

To shop for items in the store, customers can control Newme remotely from anywhere in Japan. No actual customers will be allowed to physically enter the avatar pop up store.

Newme transmits full-HD, 2K video that will allow users to see and interact with the robot’s surroundings as they shop the store. Newme also includes a monitor that displays the customer’s facial expressions in real-time. All purchases will be shipped and delivered to the address provided during the online registration.

100 Avatar Robots Planned for Tokyo Olympics

ANA is not just stopping with the popup store. They see their robots in places like malls, nursing homes, entertainment venues, and offices. The company plans to deploy 1000 avatar robots in 2020, with 100 planned for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

“With its potential to increase connectivity and help people forge long-lasting bonds no matter the distance between them, avatar technology is well-aligned with ANA HD’s core values,” said Kevin Kajitani, Co-Director of ANA HOLDINGS INC. Avatar Division. “Avatar technology is a significant component in our plans to help create ‘Society 5.0,’ a world where interactions with technology and other humans are seamless and intuitive. Instead of supplanting the human connection, avatars will make it deeper and create a whole new range of experiences that were never possible before.”

Check out our articles on Universal Studios in China using facial recognition and Flippy the burger robot at Caliburger.