The future has arrived, and was on display for all to see at Rakuten Optimism 2023 earlier this month. The five-day Future Festival, an immersive, hands-on event, hosted as part of Rakuten’s largest annual business and consumer event, offered attendees an array of unique experiences, including interactive encounters with AI, VR, AR and Rakuten’s ecosystem of digital services.
Held at the Pacifico Yokohama event center from August 2 to August 6, this year’s Future Festival included a captivating display of Rakuten’s products and services that proved a hit with attendees of all ages and interests. Upon entering the event’s vast hall, festivalgoers were greeted by thematic zones, each with interactive booths and exhibitions. From browsing products from local Rakuten Ichiba merchants to experiencing Rakuten Mobile innovation in action, participants were given an exclusive glimpse into the various facets of the Rakuten Ecosystem.
Unleashing the power of Rakuten Mobile
As attendees made their way through the colorfully illuminated hallway entrance, they were met by the Rakuten Mobile’s booth, showcasing the incredible applications of Rakuten Mobile’s 5G tech. Visitors lined up to immerse themselves in Rakuten Mobile’s Super Formula AR Experience Race, competing against professional racing driver Tomoki Nojiri through a 5G-powered racing simulator.
In the Rakuten Mobile zone, visitors could also challenge fellow festivalgoers to a friendly HADO AR match. This innovative esport combines Augmented Reality (AR) and motion sensors, enabling players to execute agile movements like diving, bending and squatting to adeptly dodge energy balls launched by the opposing team. HADO offered Rakuten Optimism attendees the chance to take part in a new and thrilling VR experience, especially for children enjoying this cutting-edge technology for the first time.
The wonders of AI
Innovation lies at the heart of Rakuten’s success story, and this year’s Future Festival event was a testament to that. In his opening keynote for this year’s business conference, Rakuten Group Chairman & CEO Mickey Mikitani emphasized how Rakuten has harnessed AI to empower its partners and numerous businesses – most notably during a joint announcement with OpenAI.
Various interactive exhibits at the Future Festival showed event attendees how Rakuten is integrating AI into its services. A photo booth powered by AI and image recognition technology developed by Rakuten Institute of Technology, Rakuten Group’s technology research and development division, was one example. This photo booth enabled festivalgoers to produce a digital image of themselves, where the image’s colors, brightness and accompanying decorative elements such as flowers and plants changed according to one’s facial expressions.
Also featured in the AI zone was an AI-powered golf swing analysis booth developed by the Rakuten Institute of Technology for Rakuten GORA. Each participant received a customized analysis of their posture, swing movement and ball impact, with a chance to win a highly sought-after Scotty Cameron putter.
Exploring Rakuten Ichiba Park
The vibrant Rakuten Ichiba Park brought Rakuten’s e-commerce platform to life at the venue, featuring select merchants from Rakuten Ichiba. Shoppers strolled through the bustling marketplace, greeted by eye-catching food stalls and pop-up retail shops. From crispy sweet potato shakes to savory fermented bean powder, the park offered an extensive array of products, seamlessly blending digital convenience with the joy of tactile shopping.
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Okaimono Panda
A special highlight of this year’s Future Festival was the 10th year anniversary celebration of Rakuten’s beloved mascot, Okaimono Panda. Over the years, Okaimono Panda has become a symbol of joy and optimism for many, successfully building a dedicated fanbase, and even a viral online dance challenge. The dedicated space saw panda lovers participate in the “Human Tower Battle with Okaimono Panda” game, snap photos with a giant Okaimono Panda balloon and shop for limited-edition commemorative merchandise.
Rakuten Optimism 2023’s Future Festival captivated attendees with the boundless potential of AI and an opportunity to personally experience and interact with emerging technologies.
The Rakuten Ecosystem is not merely a collection of businesses but also a driving force propelling the group towards a more connected, sustainable, and exciting future. Future Festival served as a powerful reminder that by empowering innovation and embracing optimism, we can create a brighter tomorrow for society.