crayons teach a lesson in humanity…

In Japan, 79% of people associate the word for skin tone (“hada-iro”) with just one color. Mixed race children can often feel alienated for looking different. So Japanese cosmetics brand Shiseido did something to show Japan’s youth that everyone is different but equal. It created a special box of crayons by “scanning a group of schoolchildren’s skin in order to create their unique hada-iro profile…and creating crayons that matched the children’s individual skin tones.”

Why it’s hot:

Besides making a beautiful point, Shiseido did it without having to say a word. By simply seeing all the different shades of skin after their faces were scanned, kids would immediately see that there is no “one true color”, and in fact, they were all different. Proving once again that showing, not telling, is an even more powerful way to convey a message.

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Robot future not as scary, or efficient, as once imagined

Last year, Hotsauce reported on a hotel in Japan called Henn-na which was staffed and run primarily by robots. While hospitality workers worldwide decided it was time to tear through a Learning Annex booklet, some were skeptical that a hotel experience based solely on human/robot interaction could work.

Alas, the skeptics have been proven correct!

The Wall Street Journal reports that the robots were so bad at their jobs (and annoying the guests) that they are getting rid of half of them.

As Futurism put it…

“Some of the problems stem from creative ideas that didn’t pan out, like a robot velociraptor that staffed the check-in desk. […] Churi, the personal assistant robot found in each room, could handle basic tasks but pales in comparison to the personal assistant that comes standard with any new smartphone.

In case after case, these robots proved too annoying or broke down too often to be worth the trouble, according to the WSJ. The velociraptor couldn’t handle foreign guests, for instance; human employees had to come over to photocopy their passports.

Churi could change a room’s temperature and respond to basic small talk, but couldn’t answer any questions about the area or other attractions. Meawhile, Henn-na Hotel’s management was so confident in the robots’ abilities that they didn’t equip rooms with phones. Later on, management made up for Churi’s limitations with the cutting-edge solution of placing a human employee at the front desk to answer questions.

Meanwhile, Churi would reportedly wake up guests again and again after mistaking their snoring for a question that the robot couldn’t quite understand.”

The keyboard robot couldn’t actually play anything.

Story on the WSJ

Why it’s Hot

It’s always great to imaging a new future but it should be tempered with reality. Perhaps using robots in more than just a support capacity is premature at this time.

Drone, curbing overtime employees

In some Asian countries including Japan and China, there’s a culture that encourages employees to work overtime. Sadly, overtime has led to deaths.

A Japanese company named Taisei wants to solve this problem in an unconventional way. They designed a drone that surveils around the office with camera and blasts Auld Lang Syne to nag people into going home. In Japan this song is usually used to indicate closing time. Their plan is to make it hard for people to concentrate and continue to work.

Why it’s hot: a very functional and useful application of cutting-edge technologies.

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