Microsoft partners on AI-powered chatbot to help guide Japanese tourists

Microsoft partners on AI-powered chatbot to help guide Japanese tourists
Image recognition functions allow it to recognise and provide information from user’s photos

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Microsoft has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot called Miko, in partnership with travel agency JTB and navigation firm Navitime.

Miko is the main feature of the Japan Trip Navigator app and is designed to assist travellers as they explore Japan – allowing them to book hotels and ask questions about public transport.

The chatbot answers questions by using JTB’s knowledge resources and learns from the input of information and images from other travellers who use the app.

Navitime’s technology in the app helps vacationers find their way around whether by walking or using Japan’s public transportation systems.

The chatbot features image recognition functions from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services AI platform, which enable it to recognise and provide information related to photos from app users.

Japan Trip Navigator currently includes over 100 model sightseeing-travel plans in five areas surrounding Sapporo, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa, with information on more than 3,600 popular areas.

The more travellers use Japan Trip Navigator, the more knowledgeable Miko becomes. A record of 28.69 million foreign tourists visited Japan last year and about 80% travelled on their own, the Japan Times reported.

“We have created Japan Trip Navigator to help individual travellers plan their trips, depending on their needs,” Yasuhiro Tsuboi from JTB said at a recent news conference. “This app supports them before and while they are visiting to make their trips more enjoyable.”

The Japan Trip Navigator is currently available in English for iOS. Other languages are to be added in the future, with Chinese scheduled to be next. An Android version of the app is planned for release later in March.

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