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Your next vacation may be virtual

17 3 0
15.10.2019

KUALA LUMPUR – Japan’s biggest airline is betting that the future of travel isn’t traveling at all.

For the last month, a married couple in Oita Prefecture has been interacting with a robot — called an Avatar — that’s controlled by their daughter hundreds of kilometers away in Tokyo.

Made by ANA Holdings Inc., it looks like a vacuum cleaner with an iPad attached. But the screen displays the daughter’s face as they chat, and its wheels let her trundle about the house as though she’s really there, and even join her parents at the dinner table.

It may seem like an odd gambit for a global airline. But as populations age, tourism hot-spots get more crowded, and overseas travel becomes less sustainable, ANA and its competitors are betting that they can make money by keeping would-be travelers happily at home.

“Virtual travel” is nothing new, of course. Storytellers, travel writers and artists have been stimulating the senses of armchair tourists for centuries. It’s only in recent decades that frequent, safe travel — especially overseas — has become available to........

© The Japan Times