This pop-up cafe in Japan has a staff of robots controlled by people with disabilities

Originally published at:


Different video, but…


As a disabled person who has lived mostly housebound on the edge of wilderness, I’m both intrigued by this concept and concerned. I’ve always been very interested in the potential of telerobotics as a means to personal empowerment. Technology has been crucial in my own life as a window to the world. This is why I’ve been particularly interested in the prospects of space telerobotics. EVA was never a practical way to work in space. If we are to truly settle space we need means to work there that everyone can use --not just national paragons. We don’t hire Olympic athletes in $12 million dollar outfits to build houses.

However, the other possible, and concerning, side of this is the perpetuation of the invisibility of the disabled in mainstream society, which has been a particular problem in the Japanese culture that has attached great stigma to visible disability and deformity. Windows can be both portals and barriers. These robots are, in a sense, one-way windows.

In some ways this demonstration reminds of the SciFi film Hinokio, about a disabled child whose father builds for him a telepresence android (using hinoki wood --hense the name) so he can attend school.


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