Projects: Talking Flat Ladies Get Hotel Jobs In Japan

February 8, 2015 by Dave Haynes


It looks like virtual mannequins have escaped from airport queues and hospital waiting rooms and found new work in hotels – or at least one opening this summer in Japan.

A concept hotel at a theme park (surprise!) will feature robots the owners say will eventually do 90% of the work around the place.

It will start with three virtual mannequins – or as I like to call them, Talking Flat Ladies – working at  reception, tied to check-in kiosks. So you log in with your reservation number, and the projection of a virtual front desk person yammers at you.

I am completely lost on how I slide the nice Flat Lady a $20 t0 seek an upgraded room away from the elevators, but maybe there’s a button or bill acceptor slot.

Here’s the story from Japan Times:

A hotel with robot staff and face recognition instead of room keys will open this summer in Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki Prefecture, the operator of the theme park said Tuesday.

The two-story Henn na Hotel is scheduled to open July 17. It will be promoted with the slogan “A Commitment for Evolution,” Huis Ten Bosch Co. said.

The name reflects how the hotel will “change with cutting-edge technology,” a company official said. This is a play on words: “Henn” is also part of the Japanese word for change.

Robots will provide porter service, room cleaning, front desk and other services to reduce costs and to ensure comfort.

There will be facial recognition technology so guests can enter their rooms without a key.

“We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” company President Hideo Sawada told a news conference. “In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.”

A single room will be normally priced at ¥7,000 per night, while a twin room will run ¥9,000.

If the hotel looks like it will be filled during the peak season, potential visitors will have to bid for the price they are willing to pay. The highest one wins, although there will be an upper limit of ¥14,000 for a single room.

The first building in the complex will open in July with 72 rooms, followed by another 72-room building next year, the company said.

The theme park in Sasebo uses actual-sized copies of old Dutch buildings to bring the experience of the Netherlands to Japan.

Almost off the chart on the Gimmick-O-Meter, but so are things like those ice hotels. How much the robots actually do is a reasonable doubt, as is whether the front desk really can be unattended. Doubt it.

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