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Toyota sends mobility robots to 2020 Olympics

Dedicated to “Mobility For All,” Toyota robots are intended to augment and amplify human capabilities

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As a worldwide partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Toyota aims to provide mobility solutions that go beyond providing official vehicles for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. One way Toyota is doing this is by participating in the “Tokyo 2020 Robot Project”, a project led by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) that brings the government, Tokyo Metropolitan government, as well as Games’ partners together with experts in the field of robotics.

At Tokyo 2020, the robots to be introduced by Toyota will be used to support the mobility of people at various locations and venues. By helping people feel and experience their hopes and dreams, Toyota believes it will be able to further contribute to the excitement and success of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Nobuhiko Koga, Chief Officer of Toyota’s Frontier Research Center, said: “At Toyota, we use industrial robot technology for a variety of applications based on our dedication to ‘Supporting human life activities and living in harmony with people’. For example, since 2004, we have developed partner robots focused on support for people unable to move on their own, including the ageing population.

Now, as we transform into a mobility company, we are expanding our robotics efforts to provide all people with the freedom to move. ‘Mobility for all’ is not only the ‘physical’ movement of a person or thing from one location to another, but also includes ‘virtual’ mobility of a person. This provides further opportunities to experience new things, meet and interact with others, or to be ‘moved’ emotionally. At Tokyo 2020, we want to capture the imagination of spectators by providing support robots as we do our part to make the Games a success.”

Tokyo 2020 Mascot Robot Miraitowa / Someity (Mascot Robot)

Offered from Tokyo 2020

  • To make this the most innovative and technologically advanced Games in history, the Tokyo 2020 and Toyota are working to develop a “mascot robot”.
  • In addition to welcoming athletes and guests to official venues, Toyota is currently considering plans for a new way for the Games to be enjoyed by children in Japan, via the mascot robot.
  • The mascot robot will both allow expressions of arm movements via a remote-location robot, and share force-feedback from interactions.
  • Via a camera mounted on the robot’s head, it can recognize people nearby, and once recognized, use its eyes to respond with/show a variety of expressions.
  • By equipping the robot with miniature joint units across its entire body, the robot offers flexibility when being controlled, and the users can operate the robot safely and with high operational functionality.

T-HR3 (Humanoid Robot)

  • Toyota will provide a unique way for other guests in remote/distant locations that are unable to be physically present to interact with athletes via the T-HR3 and Mascot robots.
  • Specifically, the T-HR3 robots will be able to reproduce movement from a mascot robot in a remote location in nearly real-time. In addition to providing images and sounds from the remote locations, these robot users will also be able to experience the power of movement and force-feedback, allowing them to converse with and high-five athletes and others, feeling as if they were truly physically present.

T-TR1 (Remote location communication Robot)

  • T-TR1 is a virtual mobility/telepresence robot developed by Toyota Research Institute in the United States. It is equipped with a camera atop a large, near life-size display
  • By projecting an image of a user from a remote location, the robot will help that person feel more physically present at the robot’s location.
  • With T-TR1, Toyota will give people that are physically unable to attend the events such as the Games a chance to virtually attend, with an on-screen presence capable of conversation between the two locations.

HSR: Human Support Robot / DSR: Delivery Support Robot

  • For a portion of the accessible seating seats at the Olympic Stadium, the Toyota Human Support Robot HSR will guide guests to their seat and convey light meals, goods, and etc. for them, helping them to more freely enjoy the competition.
  • Also, the Toyota Deliver Support Robot DSR, specially developed for Tokyo 2020, will directly deliver drinks and other goods to spectators that they have ordered from a dedicated tablet.
  • At track and field events, with approx. 500 seats during the Olympic Games and another 500 for the Paralympic Games, the robots are anticipated to serve over 1,000 spectators requiring mobility assistance (Each section is expected to have 16 rows with 32 seats).

FSR: Field Support Robot (Field Event Support Robot)

  • Special-use robots equipped with autonomous functions as part of throwing event (i.e. javelin) operations at the Olympic Stadium.
  • While determining the optimal route to travel, the FSR will follow operating staff on a path that avoids obstacles while retrieving and conveying throwing event items.
  • By using the FSR, the aim is to reduce the amount of time needed to retrieve items as well as reduce the amount of staff labour for the events.
  • Toyota and Tokyo 2020 will be working with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in developing the FSR for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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