Hotel Robots to staff the Hen-na Hotel in Japan
If you have ever wanted to walk into a hotel that was run almost completely by robots, the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, should be one of your vacation destinations this summer.
In July, the Henn-na Hotel, which translates to "Strange Hotel" in English, will open with only 10 humans on the staff. In fact, most of the front desk, porter and cleaning staff at the hotel that is housed at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park will be androids.
PC World recently reported that the Henn-na Hotel will feature androids as front desk personnel and also offer guests the option of using facial recognition software instead of room keys.
Additionally, the cleaning staff is said to be made up of robots too, although it is not clear yet how beds will be made and clean towels put in place by android staff members.
The Cost Will Surprise You
The Henn-na Hotel is part of an amusement park complex that features three other luxury hotels. While the Hotel is not intended to be any less luxurious than the other hotels, it does plan on offering the lowest room rates in the complex.
Initially, rooms will be available for as little as $59 USD per night. However, the hotel will also utilize a bidding system during peak reservation times that will enable guests to bid on room prices where the highest bids will receive a guaranteed reservation.
The Henn-na Hotel is able to offer such low rates due to the drastic reduction in operating expenses that is offered via their innovative approach. After all, using only a tiny fraction of the human staffing that would be required by a human hotel is much more cost-effective.
The hotel also generates most of its electricity from solar panels, so it will not be necessary to pay exorbitant energy fees.
The Hello Kitty Connection
There are three manufacturers involved in the construction of the Henn-na Hotel’s androids: Kokoro, Aldebaran Robotics and Yaskawa Electric. Interestingly, Kokoro is best known as being part of a larger company named Sanrio that is in charge of licensing the extremely popular Hello Kitty line of products.
Each manufacturer will handle a different aspect of the hotel’s robotic staffing needs, and Kokoro will be producing all of the female android receptionists that will greet each guest.
Facial Recognition - Image: Franck Boston/Shutterstock
Facial Recognition Software is Key
According to TechRepublic.com, facial recognition software has been in use around the world for years, and developers have already created several reliable methods for identifying individuals in crowds and in stand-alone situations. The Henn-na Hotel will be using this facial recognition software as an option for guests who do not want to utilize a standard room key.
This would be beneficial for guests because they can gain the convenience of not having to worry about losing their key. As an added perk, facial recognition software would provide an extra layer of security.
For example, no unwanted visitors would be able to obtain an extra key from the front desk, and it will also be impossible for anyone to steal a key from an unsuspecting guest.
Facial recognition software has been in use by the U.S. government since 2004, and utilizes several key facial features to make accurate identifications. During the last 11 years, the accuracy and reliability of facial recognition software has evolved to such an advanced point that the Henn-na Hotel feels confident enough to implement it in order to protect its guests.
Much More Than Just A Novelty
It may sound like a neat little novelty hotel, but it is much more than that. If you put aside the robots at the front desk, you still have the solar power and LED lighting to reduce costs that are new to the hotel industry. The use of facial recognition software as an alternative to room keys could also be appearing in other hotels around the world.
Aside from these factors, there is no denying how attractive a robot staff will be to visitors from around the world. By utilizing this revolutionary technology, the hotel could be setting a standard for hotel operations that the rest of the hospitality industry will soon have to take very seriously in order to remain competitive.
Many other industries have been exploring this same general idea, and it is becoming increasingly common to see robots helping out with everything from stonecutting to nursing care. Therefore, it is highly likely that we will soon begin encountering androids and other robotic helpers on a regular basis.
Source: Tim Hornyak, PCworld