In the very near future, meeting planners may be gathering destination knowledge from robots in lieu of hotel staff members. Hilton Worldwide and IBM announced a collaboration to pilot “Connie,” the first Watson-enabled robot designed for the hospitality market.
Named after Hilton Founder Conrad Hilton, Connie uses domain knowledge from IBM’s cognitive system, Watson, and WayBlazer, a cognitive travel recommendation engine, to suggest local tourist attractions, dining recommendations, and hotel features and amenities to hotel guests. Connie uses a combination of Watson APIs such as Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech and Natural Language Classifier, which allow it to interact with guests and respond to their questions in a polite manner. Using WayBlazer’s travel domain knowledge also allows the robot to suggest local attractions beyond the hotel.
By using Watson, Connie can understand the world in a similar manner as humans do by using senses, learning and experience. The 2.5-foot-tall robot is currently stationed near the reception desk at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia, and it has been in use for a little more than a month. The more guests interact with Connie, the more it will learn, adapt and improve its recommendations.
“This project with Hilton and WayBlazer represents an important shift in human-machine interaction, enabled by the embodiment of Watson’s cognitive computing,” says Rob High, IBM fellow and vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. “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.”