When Vacationing in Japan, Leave Everything to This AI Chatbot
Attracting more than 31 million international tourists in 2018, Japan is one of the world’s most visited countries. It is also Asia’s most competitive country in travel and tourism (and the 4th globally), according to rankings released by the World Economic Forum last week.
That said, planning and finding your way to one of Japan’s 21 World Heritage Sites and countless other attractions (such as the Ashura Buddha at Nara’s Kofukuji Temple or Kyoto’s Kennin-ji – the oldest Zen temple in Japan) can be a challenge, especially if you don’t understand the Japanese language.
To address this, Microsoft, in partnership with two Japanese companies – travel agency, JTB Corp., and navigation firm, NAVITIME Co., created the JAPAN Trip Navigator smartphone app and Miko, the app’s user-friendly chatbot.
More recently, further cloud and AI-powered advancements to Miko are enabling the chatbot to deliver a new style of independent travel for foreigners in Japan:
- Using the computational power of Microsoft Azure and AI, Miko acts as a virtual travel concierge who is constantly learning about what’s hot and where to go – by drawing on detailed sightseeing and tourist information from the Japan Travel Board and NAVITIME Japan’s route search data for all forms of transportation
- Tourists can therefore chat with Miko for help with making restaurant reservations, finding a taxi and booking accommodation, among a wide range of other services
- Miko is integrated with image recognition functions on Microsoft’s Cognitive Services AI platform, enabling her to recognize, search out, and provide information related to photos from app users
- A user can now take a smartphone image of a Japanese-language sign, advertisement or menu and receive a direct translation in English, as well as traditional and simplified Chinese
- This is significant, given that the Greater China region accounted for more than 15 million visitors to Japan in 2018, and especially with visitors from China increasing by more than 350 percent since 2014
- With foreign visitor numbers expected to spike during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo next July, these advancements to Miko, who continues to become smarter and more knowledgeable as more travelers use the JAPAN Trip Navigator app, couldn’t be timelier
- To interact with Miko, users can download the JAPAN Trip Navigator smartphone app on iOS and Android
“We have created JAPAN Trip Navigator to help individual travelers plan their trips, depending on their needs,” said JTB’s Yasuhiro Tsuboi. “This app supports them before and while they are visiting to make their trips more enjoyable.”
Source = Microsoft