This is Omotenashi Mask project.

It explores quirky qualities of machine-aided conversation.

Omotenashi Mask

Film and prototypeCommunication and language2016At Takram


In its literal translation, ‘omotenashi’ means ‘faceless’, and implies an act without superficial flattery, that treats others sincerely and attentively.

Under the slogan of omotenashi, the Japanese government is encouraging its citizens, especially ones in the service sector, to become conversant in English by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At the same time, several organisations are introducing voice recognition and auto-translation systems as omotenashi quality.

In response, Takram’s Omotenashi Mask project explores how to aid cross-cultural communication through technological interventions such as accent transfer and facial reenactment. Rather than aiming for perfect communication between two languages, an ideal for which many excellent algorithms continue to be developed, these prototypes capture and translate the more complex and subtle non-verbal cues that are expressed in face-to face communication.

The project stages a conversation between a Japanese taxi driver and a foreign tourist, which will typify communication during Tokyo 2020. In the conversation, various algorithms are employed to mediate the communication between the two, expanding our imagination of what communication could mean in an extreme, yet familiar future.

Read in日本語


それに対してOmotenashi Maskは、現在広く使われている低コストなテクノロジーを異文化コミュニケーションに無理やり使うことで、コミュニケーションがどのようにサポートされ、また変質させられるのかを探るプロジェクトである。スマホアプリなどに組み込まれているテキスト読み上げ機能を異言語間で使うことにより実現される「訛りトランスファー」、顔交換アルゴリズムを使って対話相手に対してストレスの少ない顔を作り出す「おもてなしマスク」。「完璧に発言の意味を翻訳する」という理想から距離を置き、別の角度からコミュニケーションに対して介入していこうとするこれらのプロトタイプによって、複雑で精妙な対話の本質に迫ることができるかもしれない。


Exhibition setup


  • Design and Direction: Yosuke Ushigome (Takram)
  • Project assist: Michel Erler (Then Takram intern)