Machines, not workers wanted for Alibaba’s futuristic hotel
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Alibaba, one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world, recently debuted a new hotel prototype in Hangzhou, China, where machines provide the services. Let’s see what Alibaba’s futuristic hotel offers.
The futuristic hotel
The hotel of the future is called FlyZoo. This 290-room property is located in the same city as Alibaba’s headquarters. FlyZoo maximizes guest-machine interactions but minimizes guest-staff interactions.
A more powerful app
Travelers, for example, can book and check-in into a hotel room with the FlyZoo App, as many other hotels have already offered with their apps. WWhat makes the FlyZoo App stand out is that travelers can choose the room they want to stay in, including the floor the room is on and the direction the room is facing.
Possibly because of the country’s strict security controls, mobile check-in is only available to Chinese citizens. Foreign travelers still need to use a kiosk located in the hotel to complete the check-in process.
Facial recognition that enables keyless experience
The hotel also utilizes facial recognition technology throughout the property. Guests can gain easy and secure access to the room and other facilities throughout the hotel without using a keycard.
Tmall Genie as a guest’s personal assistant
Each room is equipped with a voice-activated device called Tmall Genie, similar to Alexa by Amazon. Tmall Genie can help a guest change the room temperature, operate the lights, adjust curtains, control TVs, play music, and answer some simple questions.
Guests can also make requests through Tmall Genie for additional amenities or commercial items, which will be delivered by Alibaba’s robot. This is similar to the Botlr concept launched by Aloft Hotels back in 2014.
Image credit: PhocusWire
Digital workout experience
Today’s travelers want to stay active and healthy even when they are on the road. The FlyZoo Hotel is equipped with digital workout facilities, allowing travelers to have gaming sessions or interactive experiences (with machines or AI) during the workout.
Pack-and-go as needed
When it is time to check out, a guest can proceed with the FlyZoo App, too. Guests are able to enjoy the “pack-and-go” experience in FlyZoo.
Other e-commerce services
Shopping is made easy with the FlyZoo App. When a guest wants to purchase an item (e.g., a piece of furniture) in the hotel, they can also use the FlyZoo App to take pictures of the object and add it to their shopping cart.
Alibaba’s futuristic restaurants and grocery stores
It was just a few months ago when Alibaba introduced a similar “worker-optional” concept for restaurants and grocery stores— the Hema (sounds like “hippo” in Mandarin) Restaurant in Shanghai and Hema Xiansheng (sounds like “hippo fresh” in Mandarin) Store. Today, Alibaba has opened over 100 Hema Xiansheng Stores in China.
Like the FlyZoo Hotel, the Hema Restaurants and Hema Xiansheng Stores utilize mobile apps and robots to maximize consumer-machine interactions while minimizing consumer-staff interactions. Machines will perform most tasks for consumers, including ordering, delivery, and processing payment.
Are there still jobs for humans?
On the one hand, companies want to hire fewer staff members to lower labor costs. On the other hand, machines are now replacing humans in more places. Are there still jobs for humans?
The fact is technology is only going to get more sophisticated and become a bigger part of our lives. It is likely that more jobs will be performed by machines in the near future. Now, it is time for us to think about the big question: What can we do to avoid being replaced by machines?
How about cybersecurity?
From the perspective of cybersecurity, do you have concerns about the safety of customers’ data collected by commercial firms? What regulations must be put in place when companies collect and use consumer data for commercial purposes?
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