On January 23, 2017, Tachi Laboratory, a laboratory of The University of Tokyo and Keio University, launched a startup to forge the future in telexistence technology. The startup, named Telexistence Inc. (TX), combines a robotics platform with the telexistence concept. TX is led by the startup’s founder, Susumu Tachi (Professor Emeritus of The University of Tokyo), who serves as Chairman, and co-founders Jin Tomioka and Charith Fernand, who serve as CEO and CTO, respectively. Additionally, Kouta Minamizawa, Associate Professor of Media Design, Keio University, serves as Technical Adviser.
- Telexistence inc. Website
- Telexistence: How This Tokyo Startup Is Building Real-Life Avatar Robots
Forbes ＃CuttingEdge Friday, January 26, 2018
It was Professor Tachi who invented the concept of telexistence back in 1980. Telexistence is fundamentally a concept named for the general technology that enables a human being to have a real-time sensation of being at a place other than where he or she actually exists, and being able to interact with the remote environment, which may be real, virtual, or a combination of both. It also refers to an advanced type of teleoperation system that enables an operator at the control to perform remote tasks dexterously with the feeling of existing in a surrogate robot working in a remote environment. Telexistence in the real environment through a virtual environment is also possible.
- What is Telexistence
TX’s mission is to bring telexistence to the market. The TX team believes that telexistence will enable people to lead more productive or more convenient lives and thus enrich people’s lives and contribute toward a more sustainable society. TX’s telexistence technology uses a combination of robotics, virtual reality (VR), and digital communication to create an avatar, or robot surrogate, that users inhabit and control as their alter-ego. In other words, telexistence gives you a whole new body, and you don’t lose your own body in the process. Once ported into the avatar, you can perform feats of physical dexterity your original body was incapable of, see things you couldn’t see otherwise, or access information that you lacked. What’s more, you can do all this while being miles away from your avatar. You could pick an avatar from a range of avatars in the network and then zoom to the other side of the world at the click of a button. Telexistence will enable us to achieve what we could only ever dream of otherwise. A child in hospital could go outside and play with family or friends; a bedridden elderly woman could attend the wedding of her grandson; one could travel to the Moon without a spaceship, or see for oneself just how tranquil our planet appears when viewed from outer space.
The Internet created an age of information ubiquity. Now, the Internet of Things is making physical objects ubiquitous. The next step is to make individual humans ubiquitous, i.e., make individual humans seemingly to be everywhere at the same time. Individual humans, through telexistence, can gain virtual omnipresence or omniexistence, i.e., being able to exist in different parts of the world. That is why telexistence is capturing the world’s attention as a next-generation technology, one that can spark innovation through an organic integration of AI, VR, networking, and robotics. Meanwhile, large companies in the fields of transport, logistics, and telecommunications are investing in the technology. Efforts are now fully underway to achieve the real-world application of telexistence.
In 2009, Tachi retired his professorship at the University of Tokyo and began a professorship at Keio University’s Graduate School of Media Design. In this post, he completed TELESAR V (“Telexistence Surrogate Anthropomorphic Robot V”), the culmination of some 40 years of research. In 2015, he returned to the University of Tokyo as an Emeritus Professor to begin work on the implementation of telexistence under ACCEL Project of Embodied Media, supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Tachi and his team developed a haptic technology based on their “haptic primary color” model and piloted the technology in construction sites and factories, as well as in daily life settings and nursing care facilities. When the second VR/AR boom kicked off in 2016, Tachi remarked “The Zeitgeist is now with us. We are undoubtedly on the cusp of the practical application of telexistence.” Emboldened, Tachi, Minimizawa, and Fernand made plans for a startup.
- Telexistence avatar robot system TELESAR V; This technology has been transferred to TX inc., and based on the technology development for the manufacture is being pushed forward.
The wind then caught their sails. In October 2016, the XPrize Foundation held its annual Visioneers Summit. XPrize Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes innovation through competition. It was founded in 1995 by Peter Diamandis, who is acclaimed in the world of innovation for his charisma, and who was named in 2014 as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” The foundation held its Visioneers Summit to choose the next XPrize theme from among nine candidates. Over a two-day period, nine teams presented their theme proposals, and their proposals were screened by a panel of around 300 mentors, who included academics, CEOs, and venture capitalists.
Team Avatar, one of the XPrize teams, asked Tachi to come to the 2016 summit to demonstrate his TELESAR V, which they recognized to be the world’s most advanced robot avatar. Tachi agreed and presented the technology over the two days with the help of Fernand and other members of Tachi Lab. The panel was impressed with the demonstration, and they picked Team Avatar’s as the proposal for the next Xprize theme. The ANA Avatar XPrize was then launched in March 2018, with the finals scheduled for 2022. Numerous contestants from around the world will compete for the grand prize by launching startups, which will help prepare a business foundation for telexistence. It was against this backdrop that Tachi Lab wasted no time in launching TX, appointing Tomioka as CEO. Amid the innovation momentum, and with Tachi Lab’s many years of research at its disposal, TX—the direct descendant of the inventor of telexistence—is sure to make its debut on the world stage and impact societies across the globe.
- "A turning point of the history" To the future when an avatar comes out (in Japanese)
Forbes Japan Friday, March 23, 2018
TX is rapidly developing marketable telexistence robots, control cockpits, and the cloud infrastructure necessary to connect human operations with motion data. Meanwhile, the team is holding discussions with companies involved in factory automation, distribution, retail, travel, aeronautics, and aerospace, as part of their efforts to develop business models for the technology. For example, they are developing access and mobility applications that would allow people with disabilities or elderly people to visit a remote destination instantaneously. Other applications they are developing include gaming and entertainment applications and remote work applications. In this way, the TX team is pulling out all the stops to realize practical applications of telexistence as soon as possible.
- Find your Japan: Technology for a Better World
Published on Oct 29, 2018 by Prime Minister's Office of Japan
- Telexistence Surrogate Travel to Ogasawara; See, Hear and even Feel Ogasawara using Telexistence (in Japanese)
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
- Telexistence Develops Mass Production Prototype for MODEL H, a Robot with Remote Control Technologies
All Press Releases for May 30, 2018
- KDDI's TELESAR V at CEATEC 2017 - YouTube
The Japan Times
Tuesday, October 3, 2017