Due to conditions such as muscular dystrophy and paralysis, many disabled people in the world are unemployed, and are often left out of society. Ory Labs, a tech start-up based in Japan, is trying to change that.
At the Avatar Robot Café in Tokyo, people with severe conditions such as spinal cord injuries and ALS were hired to wait on tables through humanoid robots.
Controlled remotely, the OriHime-D robots are about four feet tall and equipped with a camera, microphone and speaker to allow them to ‘speak’ and receive orders as they move around.
The operators can manoeuvre these robots using eye movements, so even people with extreme mobility issues can use them. The project gave bedridden people a chance to work, interact with new people, and be active members of society through remote means.
More than five disabled people who participated in the project were successfully hired by a company after the pop-up café ran its course. The café became an important step in opening up new forms of employment.