IBM has worked with the Hilton hotel chain to create a robotic concierge that uses Watson cognitive computing technology to provide information to guests.
The machine is called Connie after the hotel chain’s founder, Conrad Hilton, and is stationed at the Hilton McLean hotel in Virginia. It uses IBM Watson to understand natural language and answer questions about the hotel, local attractions, restaurants and services.
Connie is effectively powered by a suite of Watson APIs that help it make sense of questions posed by humans, as well as greet guests when they enter the hotel.
The robot also draws on information from WayBlazer, a company in the IBM Watson ecosystem, and specialises in providing travel information that can be parsed by cognitive computing techniques to provide travellers with specific information during the travel booking process.
Access to WayBlazer’s pool of travel information allows Connie to recommend attractions well beyond the perimeter of the Hilton hotel.
The machine learning capabilities of Watson mean that Connie gets smarter each time it responds to a query, adapting and improving its recommendations as it goes about its day-to-day duties.
Connie has been designed to work alongside Hilton’s customer-facing workforce rather than replace hotel staff with artificial intelligence.
Connie illustrates how even traditional companies are delving into digital technologies to augment and drive business growth or reputation rather than simply providing supporting infrastructure.
Examples of this tend to be in the hospitality industry. The Amba Hotel in Marble Arch, for example, uses a virtual reality app with Google’s Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR headsets to show 360-degree tours of its hotels to potential clients looking at booking a conference venue.
Connie is also arguably the pinnacle of the Internet of Things as it merges big data, APIs derived from cloud-powered analytics and smart machines. This area is one of the key drivers in the digital transformation of enterprises and industrial companies.
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