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[Video] KT takes lead in infusing artificial intelligence into hotels

Telecommunications giant to build four ‘ICT hotels’ in Seoul by 2022

No more clumsiness when trying to find a light controller or favorite TV channel while starting your vacation at a sleek hotel.

Instead, just say the words: “Genie-ya, turn on CNN.”

“Genie-ya” is the wake word for KT’s GiGA Genie artificial intelligence platform.

AI is starting to enter some of the newest hotels in Seoul, including 
Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences by AccorHotels and L’Escape Hotel by Shinsegae, with a new mission to build “ICT hotels.”

Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun, which opened July 1, has been labeled the country’s first “AI hotel” and has adopted AI-based room control platform GiGA Genie Hotel by mobile carrier KT.

The tech-savvy hotels aim to end common frustration felt by visitors in trying to find and manipulate the hotel room’s control systems, be it for adjusting indoor lights and temperatures or securing the Wi-Fi password.

By placing the GiGA Genie Harman Kardon speaker with a 10.8-inch high-definition LCD display beside the main bed in each guest room, KT aims to ease such pain points with the voice-controlled AI assistant. 

KT’s voice-activated AI service is demonstrated at Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun in Seoul. (KT)
KT’s voice-activated AI service is demonstrated at Novotel Ambassador Dongdaemun in Seoul. (KT)

“What’s common in the repetitive pain points that guests experience at hotels is that they increasingly prefer non-face-to-face but instant services,” said Kim Chae-hee, head of KT’s GiGa Genie Business. “For guests, the GiGa Genie Hotel system will facilitate convenient stays at the hotel, while helping improve efficiency in operations on the hotel side.”

The GiGA Genie platform for hotels enables not only simple room controls, but also amenity requests or other room services without the need to call the front desk, the firm explained.

Guests will just need to say, “Genie-ya, bring some shampoo.” Or, “What time is checkout?”

The AI platform at Novotel provides Korean and English for now, but KT plans to add Chinese and Japanese by October and November, respectively.

The accuracy of recognizing English is around 90 percent, according to Baek Gyu-tae, senior vice president at KT’s Service Lab Institute of Convergence Technology.

“The English version is set to recognize various pronunciations ranging from North American, British, French and South American accents,” Baek said. “The Southeast Asian accent has reached 85 percent in accuracy for now, and we will continue raising the accuracy rate of each accent up to 95 percent.”

For non-Korean visitors, KT is also introducing the Genie Phone as part of Novotel’s smart concierge service.

Samsung Galaxy J series phones will be available for pickup at Incheon Airport or the hotel front desk upon arrival, providing foreign guests with free wireless internet connections, navigation, room control and tax refund services during their stays.

KT has also introduced the GiGa Genie speaker at L’Escape, the first boutique hotel brand by Shinsegae Chosun Hotel, a stark technological contrast to the facility’s 19th century France vibe.

KT's GiGA Genie speaker at a room in L'Escape (KT)
KT's GiGA Genie speaker at a room in L'Escape (KT)

“We are already getting partnership requests from globally renowned hotel chains, hoping to export our solution worldwide in the near future,” Kim said.

While seeking to provide its GiGA Genie solution for other hotel chains, KT will also develop three more ICT hotels in Seoul by 2020. 

Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences (KT)
Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences (KT)

KT Estate, the group’s real estate management firm, will open Andaz Hotel by Hyatt in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, next year, and another Accor hotel in Songpa-dong in June 2021. And in April 2022, a Marriott brand hotel will open in Myeong-dong.

By then, there will be around 2,000 hotel rooms supported by advanced wireless technologies in Seoul, the company said.

“We are introducing ‘ICT Real Estate’ as a new business strategy,” said Choi Il-sung, CEO of KT Estate. “The company will turn spaces into cutting-edge places by utilizing KT’s innovative telecommunications solutions in order to provide added values for customers.”

By Song Su-hyun (