Robot Graduation: Japanese University Hosts Ceremony Amid COVID-19
And it involves robots.
Robot graduation in a time of COVID-19
The Business Breakthrough University (BBT University) held a graduation ceremony on Mar. 28 at the Hotel Grand Palace, in Chiyoda, Tokyo, reports the website Mothership.
While the world practices social distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, nominal ceremonies like weddings, birthday parties, and now graduation ceremonies are being reinvented with the aid of technology.
Instead of attending their ceremony, these student graduates in Japan remotely operated "newme" robots that accepted certificates of graduation on behalf of their human avatars.
The newme robots were developed by ANA Holdings and featured a display screen that shows the faces of the four graduates, with "arms" designed to receive their certificates for the humans.
Taking a cue from traditional garbs, the robots were donned in graduation gowns and each wore a motherboard.
The other graduates participating in the ceremony also joined via Zoom, and sent comments in real-time to voice the usual graduation sentiments throughout the event.
It can be said that technology is being reshaped to bridge the gap between cultural touchstones of ordinary life, and the new life in isolation that much of the world is now confronting as a status quo.
While for most this means remote working and schooling, birthdays — often a rare gem of memory for children — remain events for which a party is deserved. Late in March, a class of fourth-graders showed a classmate some love by greeting the child — turning 10 that day — on her mother's computer screen, according to a local news source.
However original our ways of using technology to bridge the gap between social functions amid social distancing and COVID-19, one could say: the more we do it, the more technological mediation itself takes center-stage in our lives.
Natasha Caudill is a social media influencer and accessibility advocate debugging the monochrome world for you. She speaks to Interesting Engineering about her life experiences, social media interactions, advocacy, and being a part of NASA's unveiling of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope.