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Developing OriHime to cross the Milky Way of the heart
Reinvigorating Japan with robots

Mr.Kentaro Yoshifuji

A robot on behalf of a friend far away joins in a regular party. Through a computer screen, your friend acts as if he or she were at the party, and if he or she holds his or her sides with laughter the robot does exactly the same. All the guys at the bar talk to the robot and feel as if your friend were there in person. OriHime is the robot that makes this dream come true.

Mr. Kentaro Yoshifuji

Mr. Yoshifuji designs and develops everything about OriHime except its motor. "OriHime is a communication device to overcome distance and physical challenges and connect people to people," says Mr. Yoshifuji. "I want to invent things that can help people to meet those who they cannot meet because they are living alone or are in hospital. This idea was the starting point of OriHime."

He loved making things when he was young, and always played using his hands making origami or toys from cardboard or milk cartons. "Origami in particular was my starting point. Everything started from origami."

When he spent adolescent life with the smell of heavy oil after entering technical high school, he developed a wheelchair that could climb stairs. He won an Award of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in JSEC*1 and came in third place of the Engineering Category of ISEF*2 world competition. He immediately became a famous person in his community and attracted enough attention to be offered the first pitch ceremony at the Koshien baseball stadium for the regional qualification rounds of the high school baseball tournament. "As my development of the wheelchair became widely known, elderly people started to consult me about trouble they experienced in their lives. What I learned from that was that I must reduce their stress coming from loneliness as they couldn't meet people, more so than physical issues."

He thought he would enter a higher technical college after graduating from high school and create robots to ease loneliness while learning about artificial intelligence. While looking at people exchanging and enjoying themselves through origami during a volunteer activity, however, he came up with the idea of "robots to connect people with people," rather than "people and robots."

After that, he entered the School of Creative Science and Engineering at WASEDA University. He has a lathe and a milling machine in his apartment to brush up his manufacturing techniques, while joining a pantomime club to study physical movements, which was taken advantage of for the development of OriHime that expresses emotions using the entire body. OriHime's movements, including standing on one foot or like a model are very charming. "What I think is good about joining WASEDA is that there are many enthusiastic friends whom I can respect. Stimulated by friends thinking about different things in their own fields at individual undergraduate schools, I can expand the range of my imagination, and I think it is the acme of university life," says Mr. Yoshifuji. "I have expanded my range of view from that of a craftsman and started to think that I want to respond to social needs with my robots."

In the future, he plans to be engaged in a variety of activities such as giving presentations to different organizations and looking for sponsors in order to carry out studies in view of the commercialization of OriHime. "I want to target making OriHime a household commodity like interior goods. I also hope to cause a 'robot revolution' where female high school students pick up robots as if they were cellular phones. I hope I can reinvigorate Japan with robots!"

When he meets somebody for the first time, he folds an origami rose and give it to the person on the spot. As he is a natural born entertainer with careful attention, he has been able to create OriHime that heals people's hearts. With OriHime that crosses the Milky Way of hearts between people, he will surely show us new shapes of communication.

OriHime is present even in a happy circle of friends

Children cheered up in an origami class

*1 JSEC Japan Science & Engineering Challenge
Free study contest of science and technology sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun Press to develop high school students to bear the future of science and technology. The three best students are dispatched to ISEF as finalists.
*2 ISEF International Science and Engineering Fair
In this competition, more than 1,500 high school students get together from more than 50 countries around the world and present their studies. One of the largest "Olympic Games of science and technology."

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

OriHime

Date of birth: June 22, 2010 Flexibility (number of joints): 24 Materials: Plastics & carbon fiber Favorite foods: 11.1V/1,300mA Hobby: Skype
Brief message: If you want to see me, please visit here (http://www.youtube.com/watchv=40wUVjXh9gs)♪
I'm also on the Weekly website.

Mr. Kentaro Yoshifuji

Born in Nara Prefecture in 1987. Graduated from Oji Technical High School. In 5th year at the School of Creative Science and Engineering. Won second place in the Kansai Round of RoboFesta 2001 when he was a junior high student. Entered technical high school to become a disciple of the master of robot development. Won an Award of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in JSEC*1 for his development of a wheelchair. Won third place in the Engineering Category of ISEF*2 world competition. Established Nara Bunka Origami Kai at the age of 19. Creating ties in the community through origami and promoting origami culture from Nara. He has many other faces including taking care of children in field activities, dancing fire dances with fire in his hands and preparing fruit wine to entertain his friends. He is not good at cooking. After four years of living alone, he has just become able to use a rice cooker.