Last week I moderated a panel at the Aviation Festival in Singapore entitled “Avatars through the lens of digital marketing” presented by Kevin Kajitani and Akira Fukabori. I told all in attendance that this was a moment they would remember. Today’s announcement of the $10M ANA XPRIZE for Avatar Tech is why.
Kevin and Akira told the story of ANA; its beginnings as a company producing helicopters before transitioning into an airline. They also told of ANA’s vision and commitment in the future to being the world leader in Avatar technology.
Kevin spoke of it as a natural extension for the airline. “It’s about connecting the world’s seven billion people, allowing anyone to go anywhere without leaving home,” said Kevin.
Today’s announcement at SXSW is big. Here’s why:
- It’s big news to see an airline at SWSX.
- It’s bigger news to see an airline sponsoring the XPRIZE.
- It’s even bigger to have an airline committing publicly to being a leader in this emerging tech area, with the potential to virtually transport people anywhere in the world.
Today’s announcement was made by the XPRIZE executive chairman, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. Avatar XPRIZE is a four-year challenge to accelerate the development of a multi-purpose avatar system that will enable us to remotely see, hear, touch and interact with physical environments and other people through an integrated robotic device.
“Our ability to physically experience another geographic location, or to provide on-the-ground assistance where needed, is limited by cost and the simple availability of time,” said Diamandis. “The ANA Avatar XPRIZE can enable creation of an audacious alternative that could bypass these limitations allowing us to more rapidly and efficiently distribute skill and hands-on expertise to distant geographic locations where they are needed, bridging the gap between distance, time and cultures.”
An airline might seem an unlikely leader in Avatar tech but ANA is all in and their sponsorship of the Avatar XPRIZE is a clear demonstration of that commitment.
Shinya Katanozaka, president and CEO of ANA Holidays Inc, added: “As the sole provider of global long-distance physical transportation, the airline industry has long served as the catalyst for global relationships, business, diplomacy, and mutual understanding.
“However, our ability to provide this service throughout the world is limited by physical infrastructure and current technology. By launching the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, ANA hopes to break through the remaining barriers that exist to bring about an unprecedented era of physical connection, resource sharing, and collaboration for a brighter future for all.”
The ANA Avatar XPRIZE originated from XPRIZE’s six-month concept incubator program, called Visioneers, in 2016, led by scientist Dr. Harry Kloor (Ph.D.), where the ANA Visioneers team first proposed the avatar concept. This concept received top honors at the Visioneers Summit finale and was qualified as “ready for launch” by a group of 250 mentors including prominent corporate and political leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, artists, technologists and scientists.
For more information, and to register your intent to compete, visit avatar.xprize.org.