Uncanny Valley Hotel: Inn Staffed by Robots to Open in Nagasaki

uncanny-valley-hotel

Japanese culture may be famous for its storied history of doting geisha girls. But that narrative is about to be given a serious upgrade, thanks to the futuristic Henn-na Hotel.

Set to open in Nagasaki this July, the Henn-na (Japanese for “strange”) hotel will be staffed by three uniformed androids. These futuristic hosts are being designed by Kokoro, which is affiliated with the Hello Kitty licensing company Sanrio, famed for its lifelike animatronics.

Aside from the android concierges, Henn-na will also boast cleaning robots, robotic luggage carriers, a robot arm “serving as a cloak room attendant,” solar powered electricity and facial recognition door openers that will render room keys obsolete (according to a recent PC World article).

Seventy-two rooms will be available when the hotel opens its first phase this summer, and it plans to open 72 more in 2016. And while all of its glitzy technology is sure to be astounding, guests should be even more shocked by its low price: a short-circuit inducing ¥7,000 (US$59). A spokesman said that the gadgetry will actually drive down costs, especially in regards to electricity and labor.

The article went on to reference other Japanese sci-fi style androids that could communicate in sign language, and hold their own press conference. Meanwhile, other articles outlets have showcased lifelike Japanese androids that can read the news…

or scoop snow into tidy bricks of ice, while a more in-depth piece expounded on the nation’s plans to use robotics as an economic and innovation stimulant.

There’s been no word yet on when these robots will rise up and enslave mankind, but those developments are surely pending—they probably aren’t sharing that information with the media, though.

—Kyle Mullin

Image of a Kokoro Android responding to questions at a Japanese culture and technology event in Washington DC: aaronw79/Flickr (CC)

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