In a true demonstration of where the future of AI is headed, the Hilton international hotel chain has partnered with IBM to incorporate a new addition to their hotel staff: Connie.
Named after the founder of the hotel chain, Conrad Hilton, Connie is powered by IBM’s AI software, Watson, and is housed in a 58 cm-tall physical humanoid android that is made by the French Robotics Company Aldebaran. This is the same AI system that managed to win a round of Jeopardy!, demonstrating its ability to understand and answer people’s questions.
Connie has its own inquiry desk sitting next to the reception area in the hotel where it can answer questions. Currently, it’s unable to check guests in but it can help them navigate around the hotel, helping them find restaurants or amenities.
Specific for the Hilton group, Watson’s main purpose is provide natural language processing—thus allowing the mini robo-concierge to welcome guests and understand their questions and provide comprehensive answers.
Connie provides information that is based in a database culled from the travel platform, WayBlazer. It is designed to learn through interactions with human customers, fine-tuning its recommendations based on frequently asked questions.
"This project with Hilton and WayBlazer represents an important shift in human-machine interaction, enabled by the embodiment of Watson's cognitive computing," Rob High, chief technology officer of Watson said in a statement. "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."