You no longer have to journey to Japan for a high-tech hotel experience — now, you can have a robot as a concierge in a Hilton hotel. On Wednesday, Hilton and IBM announced a collaboration that will bring a Watson-powered robot concierge into hotel lobbies across the United States. Named “Connie” after founder Conrad Hilton, this digital diva based off the Nao robot is the first Watson-enabled automaton to enter the hospitality industry, and IBM promises that she will “inform guests on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations, and hotel features and amenities.”
While Connie won’t replace your human hotel staff, she’s meant to somewhat lighten the load, assisting with visitor requests, personalizing the guest experience, and empowering travelers with the information they need to fully plan and enjoy their trips. Taking advantage of a number of Watson technologies, Connie utilizes Watson’s Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech, and Natural Language Classifier APIs to interact with guests in as natural a way as possible. And thanks to its WayBlazer integration, the robot is also able to provide local dining recommendations, tourist attractions, and more.
Like any good assistant, Connie learns through experience — the more she’s able to interact with guests, the better advice she’s able to give.
“We’re focused on reimagining the entire travel experience to make it smarter, easier, and more enjoyable for guests,” said Jonathan Wilson, Hilton Worldwide’s vice president of product innovation and brand services, in a related statement. “By tapping into innovative partners like IBM Watson, we’re wowing our guests in the most unpredictable ways.”
For its part, IBM notes that Connie is a new foray into human-machine interaction. Rob High, IBM fellow and vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson, said, “Watson helps Connie understand and respond naturally to the needs and interests of Hilton’s guests — which is an experience that’s particularly powerful in a hospitality setting, where it can lead to deeper guest engagement.”
So if you’re interested in checking Connie out, head over to the Hilton McLean in Virginia, and see for yourself what a robot concierge can do for you.