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As Apple and others get emotional, where might travel fit in?

01/11/2016| 1:43:22 PM| 中文

The news that Apple has recently acquired Emotient, a specialised company in artificial intelligence to help gauge how people are feeling from their facial expression, has struck on the technology industry and beyond that AI might be the next big thing to happen in the travel sector in 2016.

There’s lots of coverage across mainstream and technology press in the past few hours about Applebuying a company called Emotient.

Most of what Apple does generally gains column inches but this one could be especially interesting for travel for a couple of reasons.

Emotient specialises in artificial intelligence to help gauge how people are feeling from their facial expression. It measures emotional response to advertisements, products and other content.

There has been a lot of noise in recent months around how advances in artificial intelligence can help improve the travel experience.

The recent trial of a robot at Amsterdam Schipol is one example with the Spencer robot helping people get to their gates on time. Going forward, however, the plan is for it to recognise emotions.

Costa Cruises also announced in December that it would be using the SoftBank-developed Pepper board from the Spring to help passengers. The robot is also said to be able to read human emotions.

Apple has not divulged any plans for Emotient and its technology yet but speculation includes that this could be the consumer tech giant’s bid to join Google and Facebook, who are already developing around chat assistants powered by artificial intelligence.

Facebook has been trialling its personal assistant service M,which sits in Messenger, and will be able to answer questions and carry out tasks.

The battleground for chat assistants has already been drawn up it seems – Facebook Messenger already has 800 million monthly users, WeChat dominates in China and Google is believed to also have something up its sleeve.

Facebook’s head of travel and consumer services strategy Lee McCabe talked at World Travel Market about the chat service potentially becoming a platform for all consumer interaction with a company.

Users of Messenger an already hail an Uber via the service and KLM is already using it to communicate with passengers and planned to enable booking confirmation and boarding passes via the platform at the end of 2015.

The idea of chat apps as the entry point for more and more products and services is increasingly popular especially as consumers get used to on-demand services.

If chat is where it’s at in 2016 and artificial intelligence can be used to make it respond intelligently, it’s not a stretch to see Apple wanting in.

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TAGS: Apple | Facebook | Emotient | AI
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