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Second “Avatar” MICE Event in Tokyo Accelerating Remote Experience to the Next Level

On October 10 in Tokyo's Nihonbashi area, five countries/ten locations were connected in the experimental workshop, Team Science Pilot Workshop X Avatar MICE, namely the United States (from three areas), Japan (four areas), Korea, Philippines and Taiwan. The event was held as a second international event after a successful gathering held this August (Blockchain Global Governance Conference -BG2C- FIN/SUM).

15 robot (ANA Avatar) participants, 25 in-person and one online, overall 41 people participated in the pilot project which was held by the Japan TeamOncology Program (J-TOP). The program is an education project in Japan under the supervision of the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas, USA, in cooperation with avatarin Inc.- a new independent technology venture of ANA Holdings Inc., that develop, deploy and research the world's first robotic avatar service platform.
ANA Avatar is a new exciting technology that employs robots (avatars) that allow users to connect from remote locations, as well as see, hear and feel the remote world through the robot senses. In practice, the “newme” – avatar video conferencing robot, easily operated by a participant via computer, can turn-around, move back and forth at the venue, adjust the vertical position of avatar screen displaying user's face, communicate face to face without worrying about social distancing - all these from convenience of home environment.

Masahiro Tsutsu, senior manager of avatarin, commented that this workshop was an important step toward the realization of avatars for MICE (avatar MICE). The pilot project showed current challenges to improve on, and at the same time demonstrated the perfect opportunity of two-way face-to-face communication for participants, overcoming distance and physical restrictions.

At the closing, the moderator of the workshop Dr. Akihiko Shimomura from Department of Breast and Medical Oncology in the National Center for Global Health and Medicine noted that J-TOP felt the necessity to change the format of the workshops and seminars. This pilot workshop was introduced as one of the solutions. He said “'In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity (Einstein).' In J-TOP we love changes and now with this experience, we have an advantage of online and virtual meetings”. Dr. Shimomura also mentioned that J-TOP plans to use avatars again in the workshop in March next year with a triple number of participants.

It has been a long time since we heard a real buzz in a business event. Unusual robot-participants mingled with in-person participants, laughing, shooting selfies, making commemorative photos - all these were part of the pilot workshop. Judging from how much fun and excitement participants felt, along with the opportunity to work, learn, collaborate and network in any conditions, with or without COVID-19, it looks very much like this small-size trial might lead to a big scale MICE gathering with 300-400 avatars in the near future.

Business Events Tokyo will continue to introduce innovative technologies for MICE to ensure that Tokyo retains the position of a high-tech exciting city always ready to help to organize an unforgettable event in the “new normal”.