Avatars set to shape the future of Japan’s business events

Avatars "joining in" the J-TOP conference with their in-person colleagues

Avatars could play a part in Japan’s business events and conferencing future following the success of a pilot project that brought the technology to a Tokyo-based workshop.

Fifteen participants from South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and three US states used Avatarin’s avatars to attend the Japan Team Oncology Program (J-TOP) workshop at the Muromachi Mitsui Hall and Conference Center. They were joined by 25 in-person participants.

Avatars “joining in” the J-TOP conference with their in-person colleagues

The technology allows the user to move backwards, forwards, as well as left and right, by using their computer’s four directional keys. The user can therefore control what to view, whom to speak with, and where to move about in the room.

Shuhei Chiba, communications manager at Avatarin, said the “newme” avatars allowed remote attendees of J-TOP’s workshop “to experience the venue as if they were there themselves”.

Such technology is expected to grow in demand as the pandemic continues to place limits on the number of attendees at events, as well as hinder the ability of participants to travel to attend. It also offers peace of mind to those who prefer to attend events remotely until Covid-19 is brought under greater control.

Avatarin, which is part of ANA Holdings, developed the “newme” avatar video conferencing robots shortly after its establishment in April 2020. The J-TOP pilot marks the company’s first step towards the realisation of its “avatar MICE” project designed to contribute to the development of business events in Nihonbashi by making avatars available. The initiative is supported by Mitsui Fudosan, the real estate company behind the Nihonbashi Revitalization Plan.

Building on the success of the initial venture, “avatar MICE” will be rolled out and made available at other facilities in Nihonbashi including Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall and business space X-Nihonbashi.

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