Cognitive Computing

The Cognitive Concierge Brings Personalization to the In-Room Experience

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve no doubt found yourself standing in a hotel room desperately searching for light switches, setting the thermostat, locating the TV remote and more. It’s all part of a quest set up the room to your unique specifications and, more often than not, it’s far more complicated than you’d like.

Today we announced an alliance with HARMAN Professional Solutions designed to simplify the in-room experience whether you’re in at your hotel or in a conference room, a hospital or a cabin on a cruise ship, just to name a few.

HARMAN designs and engineers connected products and solutions which include JBL soundbars and clock radios. Now we are embedding cognitive capabilities from IBM’s Watson Internet of Things as well as Watson APIs such as Natural Language Processing and Speech to Text into these products. With this natural language capability and IoT integration we bring these seemingly simple objects to life.

With Watson IoT, this clock radio can ingest questions or voice commands and send them to the Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud where, working with HARMAN’S AMX technology, consumers can control items in a room without having to physically perform any manual tasks.

Let’s return to the hotel scenario above, which we demonstrated earlier this year at CES. By marrying our cognitive capabilities with the clock on the nightstand, once you enter the room you can say “turn on the lights” and voila, they’re on. You can ask for the blinds to close, for the TV to turn on CNN, set the alarm for an early wake up and inquire as to when the gym opens in the morning. Customers will also be able to make additional service requests, including restaurant recommendations and reservations, late checkout, room service, shuttle service and more.

We are working to help these technologies get smarter by enabling them to learn about guests over time based on previous stays. Just imagine if the in-room concierge could tie your past hotel and in-home preferences so the next time you open your hotel room door, the settings are immediately customized to your likings.

And hotels and conference rooms are just two areas that we are focusing on. Another target are hospitals such as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. It’s no secret that physicians struggle to spend as much quality face time with their patients as they would like. In fact, the Physician’s Foundation found that 81 percent of physicians describe themselves as either over-extended or at full capacity.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital decided that part of the answer was to give patients greater control of their surroundings and access to basic information to make their stay more comfortable. Using their voice, they will be able to interact with in-room speakers that are connected to the IBM Watson IoT Platform to operate lights, window blinds, the air conditioner and more. They can also ask questions about the hospital facilities or request background information on their physician and get answers immediately.

These capabilities clearly don’t replace hospital staff, but they do give patients greater empowerment and ultimately make their in-room experience more enjoyable which is part of the cognitive promise, to simplify our daily lives. This is precisely what we are doing right now with HARMAN Professional Solutions.


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Ruby Kuppusamy

waooooo! Interesting! what a breakthrough.


Julie Cook

So, no more swearing when I can’t work the air con unit or get the TV to switch on.



that sounds interesting!


Ray Como

I’d like more info on what is needed to accomplish this. I’m already using Smart bulbs and HUE from Phillips in my home so I’m very interested in what’s next.

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