Since the 1960s, Japan has been synonymous with technology. The country has some of the biggest electronics conglomerates in the world and some of the most cutting-edge innovations within everyone’s reach so it is no wonder their hospitality industry joined the future.

Operating under the motto “A Commitment for Evolution”, Henn na Hotel is the world-first hotel chain staffed by robots. Since their opening in 2015, the brand is (in)famous for their service robots that have a variety of capabilities thanks to the advance of technologies in areas like sensors, networks, cloud, artificial intelligence and robot process automation.

Operated by H.I.S. Hotel Holdings Co., a unit of H.I.S. Co., Henn na Hotel -a pun for “Strange Hotel”- now has nineteen hotels in Japan and two overseas -one in Seoul and one in New York-. Its parent company -H.I.S. Co.-, also has a robot business division called Hapi-Robo ST Co.: a general robotics producer and provider that looks to create innovations through cutting-edge technology, infrastructure and services.

Henn Na Hotel.

Despite the technological advances, the service provided by human staff members is still present -for example, they perform housekeeping-. So, in which areas of the hotel can you find robots?

At the front desk, multi-lingual dinosaur or humanoid robots will welcome you and help you check in or check out. At your room, the state-of-the-art face recognition system will unlock the door and the Tabii tablet will allow you to control the air-conditioning, lights, TV and more.

At the cloakroom, the robotic armdevelop by Yaskawa Electric Coroporation– will store your luggage for you. Using a hand attached to the tip of the arm and a 3D vision sensor, the handling robot picks up your bag and puts it away in a specific compartment.

In addition, depending on the location, you will be able to chat with one of the following robot concierges:

The Tokyo Ginza hotel has Unibo: a communication robot –developed by Unirobot Corporation– that offers communication technologies such as natural language conversation, facial expression recognition, voice-emotion analysis, face recognition, and cloud services.

The rooms of the Maihama Tokyo Bay have Tapia: a communication robot –developed by MJI Inc.– that acts as an IoT hub and is a voice-activated remote control for the television, lights, and air conditioner.

And the rooms of the have RoBoHoN: a robot smartphone –developed by Sharp– that can carry out a range of tasks, from snapping and sharing images to controlling smart home appliances with its 2.6-inch display, Snapdragon 430 chipset, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, and 8-megapixel camera.

True to their motto, Henn na Hotel continues to evolve. Recently, their Sendai Kokubuncho hotel, introduced the “light hologram check-in” which projects images of samurai, dinosaurs, ninjas, and butlers for a non face-to-face check in. In addition, their lobby has an interactive floor projection that moves according to the movement of the customers –courtesy of Naked Inc.-.

At Bow River Solutions Inc., our objective is to seamlessly unite human and machine in a perfect interaction and integration. If the Henn na Hotel had the same objective we could say they are achieving their goal. Mechanic yet somehow human, the fun moments they are creating with the robots will leave a different memory in the mind of their guests.

Would you stay in one of their hotels? Or do you prefer the human touch in the hospitality industry? Let us know in the comments.

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