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Japanese airline ANA uses avatar robots to let customers shop remotely

Japanese airline ANA has opened a pop-up shop equipped with avatar robots that enable customers to shop remotely.

ANA said it’s pop-up at Coredo Muromachi 3 shopping mall in Nihonbashi which will remain open until December 24, is fitted with stick-shaped robots called ‘Newme’. Through the robots, shoppers will be able to browse and buy products as if they were physically at the shop.

Online registration is required to be able to use the avatar in-store and all purchases will be shipped and delivered to the address provided at registration.

“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, ANA avatar division co-director.

“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,” he added.

Once the pop-up shop ends, shoppers will be able to continue to use the avatar technology as ANA plans to deploy 100 Newme avatar robots across Nihonbashi including department store Isetan Mitsukoshi and Mitsui Fudosan ́s retail properties next year.

The use of avatar technology across Nihonbashi is part of the district’s broader ‘Nihonbashi Revitalisation Plan Stage 3’ project, a joint public-private-community initiative aiming to preserve its unique heritage while promoting modernisation through technology and urban development.

ANA will also deploy avatar robots to workplaces such as at X-Nihonbashi, which provides multipurpose venues and workspaces. The robots will allow for full-remote participation that goes beyond traditional teleconferencing, the company says. 

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