Teleworking and virtual interactions are taking off this year, however last year in Japan a pop-up café used these concepts.
The Alter Ego Robot Café employed the use of OriHime robots to serve the visitors. The robots created by Ory Laboratory are given life by people located from all over. One of the robots was even being run by someone located in Australia during some of the cafés operation. Robots are used to deliver drinks and converse with customers. The robot operators can work from home using technology that is adapted to their abilities. Some robots are operated by by eye moment, while others are run by remote control or breath controllers.
This café gives employment to people with disabilities that make it hard for them to leave their homes. Yoshifuiji Kentaro, Co-Founder and CEO of the company who created the robots, had medical issues when he was younger that restricted him to his home. Ory's mission is use technology to help solve loneliness and help everyone get to participate in society.
Yoshifuji mentioned that in the future robots can be used to continue to take take of ourselves when our bodies deteriorate weather it be from a medical conditional like ALS or old age. This can help to maintain independence, but also allow those homebound to continue to socialize with others outside their home through their robot avatars. This café was planned to be made into a permanent café for the 2020 Olympics, however with the postponement of the games this year there has been no news of it. However on the Ory website it looks like the OriHime robots are getting adapted into a variety of businesses to give telework employment to those with disabilities. The café has also been winning a number of awards, which hopefully lead to the permanent creation of this innovative café.