Several leading hotel brands have started using specially designed robots to enhance the guest experience. With every advancing day, the scientists try to make their new robot project ideas a reality. And the proof of their success in the hotel industry is the robot butler, robot bellman, and the robot hotel concierge.
Before knowing the uses of robots, you must have a rough idea about what they are. In easy words, robots are a machine, designed to carry out complex tasks or actions automatically. Some of them are created to resemble humans and are known as androids, but not all robots take such form.
Modern robots can be semi-autonomous or autonomous and use speech recognition technology and AI (Artificial intelligence). Coming up with a robot project idea and building it from scratch is not an easy thing. For this, several companies provide application templates.
Reason for Usinga Robot in theHotel Industry
So, you might be thinking about why hotels use robots. The reason is simple; they want to leave their guests with unforgettable and positive memories, which will make them visit again. The happy visitors will share their experiences with other people, which is even more beneficial for the hoteliers.
However, the question is still there; how can a robot help these hotel brands with this? The hotel robots deliver a competitive edge over the hotel industry competition. Moreover, they can help personalize the stay of the guest and can free up the time of human employees.
Connie – The Robot Concierge
A partnership with the Watson program of IBM, Hilton, for its chain of US’s hotels, is testing an artificial intelligence-powered concierge robot. The vital function of this robot is it draws on the domain knowledge from Watson and WayBlazer to aid hotel visitors figure out where to dine, what place to visit, and how to find anything at the property.
The automaton is named after the founder of the company, Conrad Hilton. In the Hilton McLean hotel located in Virginia, you can find the robot, Connie. It answers the guests’ questions about nearby tourist attractions, restaurants, and provide hotel information as well. If you cannot find a ballroom at the hotel, you will find Connie at the front desk to help you out with this information and much more.
The company has not yet decided if it is going to introduce Connie to other properties or not. It is still testing the robot at the company’s headquarters. The executive vice president for global brands at Hilton, Jim Holthouser, said that the company was hoping to achieve three things from this project; delight customers, helping the hotel to operate efficiently, and saving them from waiting in line to ask a question from an employee.
Moreover, according to Holthouser, Connie fulfills all three things. It can move its legs and arms and is about two feet tall. When a visitor asks for a direction, Connie can move itself to point in the targeted direction. To express confusion, understanding, delight, and several other human emotions, its eyes light up in different colors.
Watson, a cognitive computing technology platform, authorizes the system to understand the world like us through experiences, learning, and senses. The chief technology officer and vice president of IBM Watson, Rob High, says that the robot tries to see and hear the person. He further added that it is using its body language, itself vocalizing, and using arm gestures.
Holthouser says that Connie will not replace the employees of Hilton but will work side by side with them. He further added that it is not about reducing the staff – this is not what he wants. The main reason to put a robot at the desk is to help answer phones faster, check people quicker, and deliver the hospitality. If you will ask Connie about the elevator, it will tell you the exact location and will point towards it as well.
According to Holthouser, Connie is just answering the guest’s questions, but in the future, it can do much more than that. It will recognize the faces and welcome the guests with elite status or during meetings will look up information in the conference rooms. Connie could offer translation services to the international clients of Hilton as well.
Connie is not a new thing. Hennna Hotel in Japan is a Netherlands-themed amusement park and is staffed entirely by robots, including a life-sized velociraptor (check-in English patrons) and the Nao bot. All around the world, robots are popping up in a large number of work environments and taking over human activities.
You will see more trend of robots in Asian countries. Hence, the Hilton getting its foot into concierge automation is not something of a surprise. However, the Holthouser is very hopeful about Connie and calls it the future.
Several other companies have tested robot technology as well. Botlr, a robot of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, can deliver room services. And in New York, Yotel has a luggage carrying robot.
Misty II is a cute toy look-a-like robot with big hospitality industry motivation. It is a part of a developing number of task-agnostic, programmable robots for the enterprise. It will not be a surprise if you will see this little bot in the near-future rolling down a hotel hallway.
The task-agnostic platform is a new trend in automation. With time, more and more robots are being designed not with a single purpose but with a set of capabilities and can be used in several cases.
But how can task agnostic platforms be superior if you have to begin from scratch to program it? In the service robotics sector, which includes robots created to work in semi-structured, crowded places like hotels, hospitals, and restaurants, developers must have a quality base to build on when designing and programming an autonomous robot.
It explains why the creators of Misty II, Misty Robotics, used CES to launch it as a concierge application template to provide the baseline to the developers. The baseline makes it faster to put Misty II to work. The application template is open-source for all the developers to build upon and customize it for a particular task or assignment.
The hardware of Misty II has received positive reviews. But penetrating the market depends on both the ease of adoption and the need. Many robotic firms have come and gone because despite making phenomenal hardware, they failed on the other crucial counts.
Nations like Japan, where an aging population is dealing with labor squeeze and need more care, the robotics sector is rapidly growing in healthcare. Misty II is not a doctor, but other social robots are a crucial asset in nursing homes and hospitals.
Misty II is created to detect humans, welcome them, and interact organically to deliver responses and information. It is also compatible with third-party APIs like FourSquare, Wolfram Alpha, and several others.
The templates are a great manifestation of the future of robotics, which is open source and task-agnostic.
The Future of Robotics
The robotics sector is making much progress as it is being incorporated by many major companies to help their customers. Concierge robots are the future, which is enhancing the hospitality industry in several ways. They are not only benefiting the companies but also the clients. Seeing the recent hike in technological advancements, we are sure to see something more surprising than a robot concierge in the future.