Nothing at all, it seems, is safe. 2016 has seen a sea of app inventions, wearable technology and snazzy digital sex-bots. Now, a Japanese hotel has replaced all of its front desk clerks, porters and other employees with robots, including a hairy nightmare dinosaur wearing a bellboy cap.
A stay at the Henn Na Hotel begins with an overwhelming sensory barrage easily likened to an LSD fuelled scene from ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’.
The least exciting moment of any trip is the check in for flights and hotels. It is usually, the most time sucking and irritating process. At The Henn Na hotel, the usual frustrations are obscurely different. The front of house face of the hotel is the only representative who speaks English. But, despite being decidedly helpful and informative, he is still a robot. “If you want to check in, push one,” he says, and you type your information into the touch screen and let it snap your photo. The porter robot, who is equally efficient, accompanies you to your room with all of your luggage on board, and explains the intricacies of how you can enter your room by demonstrating facial recognition software.
The revolutionary hotel uses up-to-the-minute technology in the hope of slashing costs and automating nearly all services. Owner, Hideo Sawada, runs the hotel as part of an amusement park, and says that ‘while the robots may be a tourist draw, they’re not purely gimmicks'. The initial costs of going mechanic is, in the long run, a move to cut down on running costs and should allow the hotel to significantly reduce its room rates making a high-tech option available to the mid-range traveller. It will also eliminate the age old issue of lost room keys.
The technology that makes this actually work is still in progress, so naturally, the robots can’t do nearly as many things as human employees, such as calling cabs or giving you directions, so you'll have to do a little of legwork. And, as a mildly sinister compromise to cutting down on human employees, the hotel operates with the assistance of hidden security cameras, watching you silently as you pass through the hallways and common rooms.
Sleep with one eye open.