Japanese Hotel of the Future

Emanuel Longo | March 11, 2015

The future is now, according to a hotel set to open this July in Nagasaki, Japan. The Henn-na Hotel is offering a futuristic staff of 10 “humanoid” employees, with positions ranging from bellhop to receptionist.

The hotel’s robotic staff will be able to imitate human behaviors such as blinking and breathing, making eye contact and responding to body language and tone. They are based on the appearance and mannerisms of young Japanese women, and can speak fluent Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English.

According to The Telegraph, the technology for the hotel’s cutting-edge help comes from the robotics company Kokoro, which has been producing humanistic robots, or “actroids” since 2003.  

The Henn-na’s actroids will be supplemented by a human staff, but the company president, Hideo Sawada told the Japan Times that he hopes to eventually have robots performing 90 percent of the hotel’s services, and that his company will “make the most efficient hotel in the world.”

hotel of the future

The building itself is located in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park of Nagasaki, and CNN reports that it promises to be correspondingly high-tech. Guests of the hotel will have no need for anything as archaic as a key card to enter their rooms. Instead, they will be able to gain access to their rooms by facial recognition software. Room temperature will be controlled via a radiation panel that detects body heat, and conducts changes accordingly.  

As for the name of the hotel, it isn’t surprising that “henn” means either “change,” or “strange” in Japanese, but while the Henn-na is Japan’s first robotic hotel, it is not the first android-based business for the country. A club called The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo has become quite popular for its sci-fi dinner show, which includes robotic boxers and dancers. There is also a Tokyo bank that recently unveiled an automaton teller called “Nao” that speaks 19 languages, and assists customers in the use of the ATM.

It might seem that staying at the hotel of the future would come at a high cost, but rooms at Henn-na are going for a mere $60 a night. It is worth noting, however, that people will be able to bid on reservations online, so the price may increase with the hotel’s popularity.


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