Alibaba opens AI ‘future hotel’

admin   •   December 26, 2018   •   23165

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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China’s Singles Day sales surpass $1 billion in 1st minute

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

Workers sort packages at the Yuqiao mail processing center on Singles’ Day, in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China, 11 November 2019. Singles’ Day is the largest online shopping festival in the world and Chinese consumers are expected to spend billions on bargains during the one-day e-commerce shopping spree. EPA-EFE/MENG DELONG CHINA OUT

SHANGHAI, China — China’s golden day for e-commerce, Singles Day, began at midnight (16.00 GMT Sunday) with sales surpassing $1 billion in just one minute through the platforms of online retail giant Alibaba Group.

At 12 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of Chinese began shopping and Alibaba began counting orders with the aim of breaking internet sales records for a single day.

In the first five minutes alone, products worth $4.3 billion were sold on platforms such as Taobao or T-Mall in this public shopping festival similar to Black Friday in the United States.

One hour after midnight, Alibaba Group said sales had reached over $12 billion.

The goal is to beat last year’s record of $30.8 billion in sales, a figure expected to be achieved through an increasing number of Chinese internet users and online shoppers.

According to Alibaba Group’s latest quarterly results published at the beginning of November, annual active consumers in China reached 693 million, 15.3 percent more than a year earlier.

Singles Day emerged in 2009 with the participation of only 27 stores and a collection of just 52 million yuan ($7.4 million).

Sales each year now reach 2.5 times higher than the total of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – large sales days in the US — combined.

Although most purchases are made in China, there are also international transactions since the company is present in other countries through its AliExpress platform.

And although other online sales platforms have joined the day, as well as thousands of physical stores, Alibaba is the main promoter.

It celebrates in style, such as with a televised gala in which artists and celebrities encourage people to buy.

Sunday’s show, which ended with a countdown to mark the beginning of shopping, was held in the city of Shanghai and featured performances by artists such as the US pop star Taylor Swift. EFE-EPA

BI arrests man wanted for investment scam in China

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese national wanted for his alleged involvement in economic crimes in China has been arrested by the operatives of the Bureau of Immigration, the agency said Monday.

Chen long, alias Chen Chenglong was arrested last Oct. 30 in a building in Makati City, the bureau said in a statement.

Chen, 32, and his cohort were accused of setting up an unregistered investment company in Shandong province and “reportedly duped their victims more than 60 million RMB or more than P400 million.”

The BI said it launched an operation and case build-up after receiving information from Chinese authorities about Chen’s crimes.

“Upon receipt of the information, we immediately conducted a case build-up and determined his location to effect his arrest,” Bobby Raquepo, head of the BI’s Fugitive Search Unit said.

The bureau added that Chen’s passport has been canceled by the Chinese government, making him an undocumented alien.

Chen has been transferred to the BI Detention Center in Bicutan, Taguig pending the implementation of his deportation.

China donates P22 million for quake victims in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 1, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese government on Friday announced that it is donating 3 million RMB or around P22 million to the Philippine government to help victims of strong earthquakes in Mindanao this month.

In a statement, China, through its Embassy in Manila, expressed its deepest sympathies to families affected by the powerful tremors that rattled parts of Mindanao in the past few weeks.

China said its aid also aims to support the disaster relief efforts by the Philippine government in Mindanao and help local residents return to normal life.

“China believes that, under the strong leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the government of the Philippines, the Philippine people will overcome the disaster and rebuild their homeland as soon as possible,” the Embassy said.

Earlier, Japan and the United States, through its Embassies in Manila, have sent their sympathies and condolences to victims of the latest disaster in Mindanao.

This month, three powerful earthquakes struck Tulunan, Cotabato; a magnitude 6.1 on Oct. 16, followed by a magnitude 6.6 on Oct. 29 and a magnitude 6.5 quake on Oct. 31.

The quakes have killed 17 individuals, and injured more than 300 others, according to the latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The temblors affected large parts of Mindanao, weakened structures and caused some buildings to collapse in the latest tremor.

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