Good evening, how may we help you?
February 9, 2015 5:54 AM   Subscribe

 
who use to check you into your room.

Hey, could someone check the grammar subroutines on the Brandon Blatcher bot?
posted by zamboni at 6:05 AM on February 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


By the time you peel off the layers of exaggeration, marketing, and optimism, we probably end up with some place that's got, like, a broken clockwork doll in the front lobby.
posted by Segundus at 6:25 AM on February 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eeaaahhcckk.

Uncanny Valley for $200, Alex. The ridiculous thing is that they could do a video display with an CGI receptionist that would look much more realistic and accomplish exactly the same goal.

...add an expert system look-up table (how many questions do you really ask the hotel clerk?) and maybe some voice recognition and you've got a half-decent idea.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:26 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


TOO LATE!!
posted by pompomtom at 6:34 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Michikoids?
posted by acb at 6:39 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


And just in time for the HBO remake of Westworld.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:56 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not sure what the point is of the robots. We already have this awesome system (which I haven't used but love the idea) of checking directly into the hotel room via phone.
link
Sure, if I need something, going to the front desk is fine, but I'd love to skip the check-in process of credit card/ID/here's your room key.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 7:01 AM on February 9, 2015


Uncanny Valley for $200, Alex.

I like the fact that it's sort of a synthetic hotel in a synthetic Dutch village. It's not just an uncanny valley, it's moving on to the Uncanny Island. I can hardly wait for the first robotic tourists....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:01 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I assumed it would be CGI receptionists, too. That'd work much better and work just as well.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:06 AM on February 9, 2015


"she's a cyborg, you idiot! She recorded every word you said, her memories are admissible as evidence!"
posted by fullerine at 7:06 AM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why do robots need to look like people? I have never understood this. All the current fake-human robots are horrifying, and once they do get good enough you can't tell the difference, then that will be a different kind of unsettling.

Thanks to pareidolia, humans are capable of treating inanimate objects like people. Just make the check-in bots vaguely cute and harmless-looking and you're fine.
posted by emjaybee at 7:09 AM on February 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


In that vein, I would pay a premium to be checked into a hotel by the Interstellar kit-kat robots/AI.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:17 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just make the check-in bots vaguely cute and harmless-looking and you're fine.

No way, man! They should go full-on terrifying metal monster, but dress it up in one of those little airport check-in vests with a clip-on ID and maybe a jaunty kerchief.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:17 AM on February 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


I love the way the robot clerk looks just like a cast member from the Thunderbirds. http://img.soundtrackcollector.com/movie/large/Thunderbirds_%28TV%29.jpg
they haven't really updated the sculptural elements since then.
posted by TMezz at 7:21 AM on February 9, 2015


I love the way the robot clerk looks just like a cast member from the Thunderbirds.

That's Japan. Technology from 2050, Gender roles from 1950.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:29 AM on February 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


They should go full-on terrifying metal monster

I AM WAR-BOT 3675/X4! PLEASE ALLOW ME TO SHOW YOU TO YOUR ROOM! *gestures with flame-thrower appendage* THE POOL AND FITNESS CENTER ARE TO YOUR LEFT! THANK YOU FOR STAYING WITH NOTTERRIFYINGROBOHOTEL, HU-MANS!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:33 AM on February 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


ENJOY YOUR STAY! ... YOU NOW HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO COMPLY!
posted by No-sword at 7:35 AM on February 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I AM WAR-BOT 3675/X4! PLEASE ALLOW ME TO SHOW YOU TO YOUR ROOM! *gestures with flame-thrower appendage* THE POOL AND FITNESS CENTER ARE TO YOUR LEFT! THANK YOU FOR STAYING WITH NOTTERRIFYINGROBOHOTEL, HU-MANS!

At least the poor bastard would be out of Accounting.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:38 AM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


You will notice that Warbot 3675/X4 (decommissioned) has been fitted with a sensitivity module. At no point during guest interactions has the unit used the pejoratives "meat-sack," "blood-bag," or "wet target,"nor has the unit discharged any of its armaments except when lighting guests' authorized tobacco products. Robots are perfectly safe! Nothing can ever go wrong...

wrong...

wrong...
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:50 AM on February 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Have Japanese hotels and hotel workers mastered key card technology yet? Because American hotels haven't. The thing I most often need their help with is my stupid key card not letting me in, and then they don't seem to know how to fix it. Would robots be able to handle it better when the camera arbitrarily doesn't recognize my face, or would they refuse to talk to me because the camera doesn't recognize my face?

I think the whole robot thing is a waste of resources. If you really don't want to give human beings jobs at a hotel you don't have to, as long as you can make the technology reliable. But we are not there yet.
posted by bleep at 7:50 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This makes me feel fantastic.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:03 AM on February 9, 2015


But how can they justify paying the female robots less when there is no possibility of them taking maternity leave?
Good luck making a profit idiots!!
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:06 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because American hotels haven't.

I stayed in a hotel for a conference. I arrived early in the morning and was able to check in. My roommate arrived later and checked in. They created a new key card for her, then mine no longer worked. I complained. So they created a new key card for me, at which point hers was cut out. It was about a day and a half before we could take the time to both go down at the same time and get issued a fresh set of working key cards.

can only imagine what hijinx robots could get into.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:07 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, using uncanny full size humanoid robots to do a job a touch screen could do better is a nice bit of retro-futurism.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:08 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


haha look at those crazy japanese with their crazy culture

i could not even understand it at all and I am well justified in my mockery due to a barely researched hypothesis in aesthetics that probably hasn't been critically reviewed in light of cultural perspectives, tee hee
posted by saucy_knave at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


My roommate arrived later and checked in. They created a new key card for her, then mine no longer worked. I complained. So they created a new key card for me, at which point hers was cut out.

Whoops, they did it wrong. When you get that situation, you're supposed to run both keys, put one in a folder with the room/guest name marked on it, and hand that to them when they check in.

When you create a hotel card key, it has a flag on it that says "I am the new key for you, room XXX." When it is first used, the lock goes "Oh, hey, it's a new key", remembers that, and erases the new key flag. Any card with the identical keystring will get the flag removed as well. Any key without a new key flag that doesn't match is rejected.

When they issue a key, they have five minutes to reissue identical keys. The trick when you get a replacement key is to ask for two new keys, and hand one to your roommate. Of course, you need to find your roommate and give it to them, and I suggest texting them and saying "I had to replace the room keys. Yours doesn't work, I have one for you" so they don't go and change the key again.

Very new sets get around this by being able to talk to the locks directly -- there, they can hand you a new key, tie it to your account, and tell the lock 'This is also a valid key' but most locks don't have any connection to the world, they just look at the keys to know when to rekey.

Related tip. When you close the door, make sure it locks. In many cases, by law, if the lock power fails (they're all battery driven) they are required to fail open. It's not a problem to fix -- maintenance comes up, changes the batteries, hooks up a controller and sets a flag that says "the next key you see is a valid new key." You then slide your key in and the lock relearns the key. Good hotels change the batteries on a regular schedule, but sometimes you get a bad battery.
posted by eriko at 8:21 AM on February 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


Oh, sure, it starts out this way, kinda creepy but harmless, but eventually the rest of the staff gets replaced by robots, and then one day you call to order room service and find that due to a recent problem with their food supplier that has now been corrected, the robot chef enthusiastically announces that he has expanded the menu options to more than just "Fish, and plankton, and sea greens, and protein from the sea."
posted by chambers at 8:37 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: "No way, man! They should go full-on terrifying metal monster, but dress it up in one of those little airport check-in vests with a clip-on ID and maybe a jaunty kerchief."

Did you see the story linked by the article to the hair washing robot? In my mind, it booms out PLEASE INSERT SKULL TO BEGIN
posted by boo_radley at 8:55 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This talk of Trichophagic Roombas and my earlier killer hotel comment makes me surprised that with all the reboots and remakes these days, there hasn't been an attempt for a big budget remake of that 80s cheesy-but-fun movie with Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, and Kirstie Alley where the police have a robotic version of an 'animal control unit' that deals with out of control robots, Runaway.
posted by chambers at 9:25 AM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I did do a quick google search to see if I could find a picture of the boxy roomba-like robot with a handgun from Runaway, but I give up easy.
posted by ckape at 9:48 AM on February 9, 2015


This would be cooler if all the robots had the head of Philip K. Dick.
posted by newdaddy at 9:53 AM on February 9, 2015


bleep made a very good point. What happens if the facial recognition system fails? Who do you talk to?

Hmm, also what happens if a fire alarm gets pulled and it's a false alarm? Or if the circuit breaker gets tripped?
posted by I-baLL at 10:05 AM on February 9, 2015


chambers, that is one of my very favorite movies. Spider robots! It was so terrible and I loved it.
posted by emjaybee at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2015


That'd work much better and work just as well.

DOES. NOT. COMPUTE.

*headsplode*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:24 AM on February 9, 2015


I remember the story about robots from Japan, used to observe patients in their hospital rooms. They function as microphones, cameras, maybe monitoring equipment, and they make pleasant, compassionate expressions. If they want to store one at my house, the rent wouldn't be too high.
posted by Oyéah at 12:11 PM on February 9, 2015


The robotic revolution has already begun, in Housekeeping.
posted by jamaro at 12:20 PM on February 9, 2015


Doesn't hen-na hotel just mean weird hotel? I think the Japanese know exactly how strange it is.
posted by fnerg at 1:06 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why do robots need to look like people?

One of the reasons Japan has been working on humanoid robots is as caregivers, given that they will have more retired people than workers due to a very low birthrate. The more human-seeming they can make the robots, the better they can be at this job, so the theory goes (by also fulfilling needs for emotion and companionship).
posted by thefoxgod at 3:09 PM on February 9, 2015


Doesn't hen-na hotel just mean weird hotel? I think the Japanese know exactly how strange it is.

Yeah -- this is totally a gimmick. This isn't some big indication that Japan as a whole wants completely robotic hotels. People talking about how cardkeys or screens could replace the robots are totally missing the point --- the robots are an attraction. It's Westworld Hotel.
posted by thefoxgod at 3:13 PM on February 9, 2015


It's not that key cards could replace the robots, I'm just afraid that if we still can't get key cards to work then how can complex humanoid robots be relied on? But maybe Japan is ahead of the U.S. in key card technology.
posted by bleep at 5:07 PM on February 9, 2015


I've never had trouble with a keycard in Japan, although I have been staying in Japanese hotels much more than American hotels the last few years so its hard to compare.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:45 PM on February 9, 2015


One of the reasons Japan has been working on humanoid robots is as caregivers, given that they will have more retired people than workers due to a very low birthrate.

And xenophobia, otherwise they'd just import more "guest workers".
posted by MartinWisse at 11:20 PM on February 9, 2015


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