Next time you go to Japan take Miko along to help you plan your vacation and see the sights. Miko is a super-smart chatbot, which is fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) and designed to take the guesswork out of traveling.
It is the star of the Japan Trip Navigator – a new smartphone app created by Microsoft in partnership with two Japanese companies – travel agency, JTB Corp., and navigation firm, NAVITIME Co.
Miko (pictured left) acts like virtual travel concierge who is constantly learning about what’s hot and where to go. It answers questions by drawing on JTB’s extensive knowledge resources and learns from the input of information and images from other travelers who use the app. Users will also be able to make hotel and other bookings on the app.
NAVITIME’s technology in the app helps vacationers find their way around whether it be walking through the laneways of Tokyo or getting the most out of Japan’s extensive public transportation systems.
Miko and the app’s other AI technologies let travelers get more out of their experiences. Miko is integrated with image recognition functions on Microsoft’s Cognitive Services AI platform, enabling it to recognize, search out, and provide information related to photos from app users.
Japan Trip Navigator already includes more than 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 spots. This list will grow as more tourists use the app and upload information and images about their trips as they use the app to create their own personalized itineraries.
Miko is learning all the time. The more travelers use Japan Trip Navigator, the smarter and more knowledgeable Miko becomes. A record 28.69 million foreign tourists visited Japan last year and about 80 percent traveled on their own, the Japan Times reported.
“We have created Japan Trip Navigator to help individual travelers plan their trips, depending on their needs,” JTB’s Yasuhiro Tsuboi 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 near future, with Chinese slated to be next. And, an Android version of the app is planned for release later this month.