Alibaba opens AI ‘future hotel’

admin   •   December 26, 2018   •   22550

Interior of Alibaba’s AI ‘future hotel’ and a robot | REUTERS

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has opened a hotel loaded with artificial intelligence (AI) and robots, automating a series of procedures like check-in, lights control and room service.

FlyZoo Hotel, opened in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, where Alibaba is headquartered, is known as the company’s first “future hotel”.

Customers can check into the hotel by simply scanning their faces. The facial recognition system installed in the hotel also enables customers to use their faces as key cards to open doors and access other hotel services.

Users can also control the lights, television and curtains in the room via Alibaba’s voice-activated digital assistant, while robots are deployed to serve dishes, cocktails and coffee.

Hotel bookings and check-out can also be done with a few clicks on mobile through an app. The hotel is the latest example of Chinese techcompanies’ foray into traditional industries such as the hospitality sector.

“We don’t have to waste our time on registering and waiting in lines. Many services like check in can be done with a smartphone. Secondly, I feel more safe with the help of this technology and these smart facilities,” said Sam Wang, a customer.

Some people may concern that these robots may put the human hotel staff out of a job.

“I’m not worried about being replaced by robots, because machines and robots can only do some simple works at this hotel. It is the human employees that can provide better services. The robots can save us a lot of time so that we can better serve our customers,” said Sun Xiaoting, an employee of FlyZoo Hotel.

Many customers said technology is making hotels more convenient and upgrading their services. But others said information safety and privacy are major concerns.

Many hotels across the world are now teaming with tech companies to upgrade their facilities with AI and Internet of Things technologies. FlyZoo Hotel’s CEO Wang Qun said safety and service will always be their top priority.

“So we are already concerning about this kind of issue. First of all, we will completely comply with the local government policies and local laws. Secondly with our system capabilities, because you know all our systems are cloud based, we have more and more strong capabilities to protect those data and privacies from our individual guests,” said Wang.

Wang said the FlyZoo Hotel is 1.5 times more efficient than its competitors. — Reuters

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Pro and anti-Beijing supporters face off at shopping mall

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 13, 2019

Pro-Beijing supporters flooded into a Hong Kong shopping mall waving China flags and singing the Chinese national anthem on Friday (September 13) where they were confronted by with anti-Beijing groups.

The confrontation came hours before a city-wide Mid-Autumn festival celebration where demonstrators are set to carry lanterns and form human chains on the scenic Victoria Peak, an area popular with mainland Chinese tour groups. The human chain is also due to be formed on Lion Rock which separates the New Territories from the Kowloon peninsula.

The anti-China demonstrations started in June in response to a bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but have broadened into calls for democracy.

China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair. It denies meddling in Hong Kong and has accused the United States, Britain and others of fomenting the unrest.

Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by its obligations under the Joint Declaration. (REUTERS)

P53-M misdeclared agri-products from China seized in Manila Port

Robie de Guzman   •   September 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly P53 million worth of misdeclared agricultural products from China were seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Port of Manila.

The BOC said the products that were shipped inside 16 containers arrived in Manila last August 8.

The shipment was consigned to a certain Shinerise Trading Service. It was initially declared as fishballs.

However, upon inspection of the containers, the BOC found that the shipment contains carrots and onions estimated to worth P40.1 million, broccolis worth P10.04 million, and P2.5 million worth of potatoes.   

The bureau has issued a warrant of seizure and detention against the said shipment.

The BOC also cancelled the accreditation of the Shinerise Trading Service and its broker was placed under investigation.

The confiscated agriculture products will be destroyed as these did not have necessary clearance as proof that these items are safe for public consumption, the BOC said. RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Chinese Premier says Beijing supports Hong Kong government to end violence and chaos

UNTV News   •   September 6, 2019

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday (September 6) that the Chinese government unswervingly safeguards ‘one country, two systems’ and ‘Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong people’.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel raised Hong Kong with Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Friday, saying a peaceful solution is needed.

Li said Beijing supported the Hong Kong government “to end the violence and chaos in accordance with the law, to return to order, which is to safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.”

The extradition bill, which would have allowed people in the former British colony to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, triggered mass protests that have since widened into a backlash against the Hong Kong government and its political masters in Beijing.

Hong Kong is bracing for more demonstrations this weekend, with protesters threatening to disrupt transport links to the airport, after embattled leader Carrie Lam’s withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill failed to appease some activists. (REUTERS)

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