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&HAND Wins Grand Prize at LINE BOT AWARDS

  • &HAND uses LINE chatbot to help disabled connect with caregivers
  • 11 projects recognized for using LINE chatbots to create innovations

BANGKOK – April 4, 2017 – Imagine having a visual or hearing impairment or other disability, and suddenly needing assistance. How best to contact someone who can help? With “&Hand,” the disabled are able to connect with caregivers easily using LINE Beacon and other LINE technology.

That innovative solution for supporting the disabled made &HAND the grand prize winner of the LINE BOT AWARDS, a contest launched last fall to promote the development of chatbots that use LINE’s Messaging API. &HAND and 10 other innovators were recognized at the awards event, which was held on March 18.

&HAND was recognized for designing a service that takes real steps to solve a variety of user needs, connecting people by mobilizing LINE Beacon (an IoT technology that uses Bluetooth Low Energy to transmit data), and offering a clear vision of commercialization grounded in actual implementation.
As part of LINE’s Smart Portal strategy – which aims to make LINE a one-stop shop that seamlessly connects people, information, services, companies and brands – LINE publicly opened up its Messaging API last September. Since then, external developers have been able to freely develop chatbots for LINE.

For the LINE BOT AWARDS, individuals and businesses were invited to compete for cash prizes of up to JYP 10 million (about USD 90,000). Over the three-month application period, 815 entries were received – including about 25 percent from outside of Japan – competing in 11 categories, in addition to the Grand Prize.

For more information about the LINE BOT AWARDS, check out the official site: https://botawards.line.me/


Grand Prize – JPY 10 million

&HAND (LINE ID: @jqv8293w; Creator: &HAND)
  • This project uses LINE Beacons to connect people who have physical, mental, or other disabilities and who need support with nearby caregivers. People needing assistance can use a LINE Beacon to send a signal requesting help, which is received by any caregivers in the vicinity who have signed up with an &HAND official account. Then, through the &HAND official account, the person needing help and the caregiver can privately discuss what assistance is needed. The developers say they will continue working on the chatbot to add more services, such as providing regular caregiving tips on the Timeline and offering support to tourists.
  • “We are very stunned by this, but are honored to receive the grand prize,” said the &HAND team in a statement. “We believe that this win represents the aspiration of everyone who supported us to create a better future using this chatbot. Thank you for your continued support as we make further developments to commercialize this service.”

Microsoft Award (special co-sponsor award) – JPY 1 million

NAVITIME (LINE ID: @navitime; Creator: Navitime Japan Co.)
  • When prompted to plan a trip using public transportation, this bot uses natural language processing technology to automatically provide up-to-date information on transit connections, schedules, and possible delays.

Student Category – JPY 1 million

mitchy (LINE ID: @sxp6856c; Creator: Team AL)
  • mitchy aims to transform the traditional Japanese classroom, where students listen quietly to the instructor, and instead encourage active learning. This chatbot creates group chats where students can exchange messages anonymously during class, enabling them to feel more comfortable asking questions, and where they can review their lessons after class by going over the chat history. Only the teacher can see the students’ names, preventing potential abuse or harassment in the chat rooms, while also allowing them to see who is actively taking part in discussions and who is having difficulties.

Start-Up Category – JPY 500,000

EncodeRing (LINE ID: @uil3575g; Creator: EncodeRing Co.)
  • EncodeRing is an accessory manufacturer that takes the waveform of voices, music, and other sounds to design and create unique, custom-designed jewelry. With this LINE bot, customers can easily create their own original accessories by simply sending a voice message to EncodeRing, and the waveform of their voice message is used to design the accessory they order. The chatbot is designed so that it naturally communicates with customers in the same manner as a shop clerk, and so that fashioning original accessories can be done easily, by simply selecting the size, shape, material, and other factors in the carousel.

Localization Category – JPY 500,000

NgampusBareng (LINE ID: @ngampusbareng; Creator: Teman Jalan; from Indonesia)
  • NgampusBareng is a service for students to hitch a ride on a motorcycle in Indonesia, a country known for heavy traffic jams. The chatbot allows students seeking a ride to connect with available drivers via LINE. The service is currently being offered in over 50 schools, and over 3,000 successful matches have been confirmed at each campus. Drivers who give students a ride get points that can be exchanged for coupons and other benefits.

Lifestyle Category – JPY 500,000

Yamato Transport (LINE ID: @yamato_transport; Creator: Yamato Transport Co.)
  • By becoming a friend of Yamato Transport’s LINE account and linking their Yamato ID with their LINE user account, users can use LINE to specify their preferred delivery date, receive attempted delivery notices, and change their preferred delivery date, time and location. Users also have the option of performing these tasks through a conversation with a chatbot. Other services include making a reservation for the issuance of shipping labels (available with selected delivery services).

Game Category – JPY 500,000

OneNightWerewolf Bot (LINE ID: @nto6347b; Creator: Team 451Lab)
  • This chatbot plays the role of game master in the One Night Ultimate Werewolf game. Users can declare their desire to participate in the game in a private chat, and the game begins once the bot is invited to the chat room and the player executes the command to start. Players then simply follow the instructions given by the bot and switch between the private chat and the group chat to play the game.

IoT / Beacon Category – JPY 500,000

Yukiyama bot (LINE ID: @hlk9118m; Creator: Pizayanz)
  • Most skiers and snowboarders have experienced becoming separated from friends on a snowy mountain (snowy mountain is “yukiyama” in Japanese). But with the Yukiyama bot, that will no longer be a problem. Just create a chat group on LINE or Facebook before hitting the slopes and add the Yukiyama bot to the chat, and every group member’s location is automatically shared in the chat through LINE Beacons set up at chairlift boarding points. By installing LINE Beacons at chairlift stations, restaurants, designated smoking areas, bypass slopes, and anywhere else at a ski resort, skiers and snowboarders will never again be required to get freezing hands using their smartphones to manually communicate their location to their friends.

Group Chat Category – JPY 500,000

Checkun (LINE ID: @rfy8689j; Creator: Team Checkun)
  • Checkun is a handy accounting bot that takes care of the cumbersome task of splitting the cost of trips and events involving multiple people. This bot that allows payments among groups of people to be registered, operated and settled within a chat group, streamlining process and making everything clear to all.

Conversation Engine Category – JPY 500,000

botnoi (LINE ID: @botnoi; Creator: Botnoi; from Thailand)
  • With botnoi, users can enjoy a friendly conversation much like talking to a real friend. It supports one-on-one conversation as well as group chats, and communicates in Thai, English, Nepali, and Chinese. In addition to simple chats, botnoi can search for nearby restaurants, conduct surveys of its 350,000 users, and more.

Geek Category – JPY 500,000

Shakure (LINE ID: @zhc1140s; Creator: Shakure Seisaku Iinkai)
  • This bot enables people attending an event to share photos. If LINE Beacons are set up at a venue, organizers can share photos, presentation slides, and other images to those inside by simply sending the data to the bot account. This service makes it easy for organizers to share slideshows and other presentations, so attendees don’t all need to take their own photos of presentations (which, in a room full of people, can be noisy and distracting). Furthermore, in administrator mode, images can be captured with a video camera, so organizers can capture slide images and share them without received a copy of the presentation from the speaker. And since text data can also be sent with this bot, an English speech can be translated into other languages in real time.

(Note: No award was given in the Entertainment Category prize.)
Under its corporate mission “Closing the Distance,” LINE Corporation is actively engaging in a variety of initiatives to help external developers and partners develop and operate services on the LINE platform, while striving to bring people closer through a wide range of information, services, and products.