In addition to the humanoid staff, guests will have the option of using facial-recognition software instead of room keys. Room temperatures will be monitored via a radiation panel that detects body heat. Rather than calling reception, guests in need of additional amenities request them through a hotel-provided tablet.
It’s worth noting that “Henn” can mean either “change” or “strange” in Japanese. Both interpretations seem accurately descriptive of the technology for the hotel’s cyborg staff, which isn’t far from science fiction.
All this super advanced technology will of course come at a price. The minimum room rate at the Henn-na Hotel will be JPY7,000 ($60) for a single room to JPY18,000 ($153), the highest possible price after bidding, for a triple room. The price may increase as people bid for the rooms online.
The cheaper rates will be possible because the use of robots and power-saving equipment such as LED lights and renewable energy are all expected to reduce operating costs.
The Telegraph reported the ‘humaoids’ have been developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Kokoro, a branch of the company that licenses Hello Kitty.
First unveiled in 2003, the model has been steadily refined with the current generation consisting mainly of robots that have been given the features (and mannerisms) of a young Japanese woman who, in addition to speaking (in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English), will be able to make hand gestures, reciprocate eye movements and understand the moods of guests.
For those seeking relief from both the change and the strangeness, developer Huis Ten Bosch said the robo-receptionists, bellhops and maids will be supplemented by human staff. However, company president Hideo Sawada told the Japan Times he soon hopes to have robots performing 90 percent of hotel services.
“We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” Sawada said, as the Japan Times reported.
The Henn-na project is Japan’s first robot-run hotel, but it joins a host of other android-oriented businesses in the country. Earlier this week a Tokyo bank unveiled “Nao,” a 23-inch tall automaton that speaks 19 languages and can assist customers using an ATM. After withdrawing cash from a robot teller, Tokyo residents can take in a robot cabaret or get their hair styled by a 24-fingered hair-washing machine.
The Robot Revolution has arrived sooner than we thought.
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