Christmas shoppers gawked as 2 white robots rolled under giant unicorns, a preview of how billionaire Henry Sy plans to use artificial intelligence in his mall empire.
The robot concierge provides information on deals, promos and events from a touch screen mounted on its chest. It can also reply by voice to basic questions.
“We believe that technology can aid us in upgrading our service,” SM Supermalls chief operating officer Steven Tan told ABS-CBN News
“The Sy family, the SM group are so much into technology,” said Tan, who got the idea to deploy robots after using one in an airport in South Korea.
Megamall, one of the SM Group’s largest, will deploy 3 concierge robots in the first quarter of 2019. If successful, it will be expanded to Mall of Asia, Seaside City Cebu and Aura Premiere, Tan said.
Taiwan’s New Kinpo Group manufactured the robots for SM. It deploys similar models to malls, banks, convenience stores and airports in the region, said its sales deputy manager Ligo Lim.
Lacking the “human touch,” Tan said robots could”never replace” flesh and blood workers at SM, the Philippines’ largest shopping mall operator.
“Definitely emotions, with human beings they have likes, they know what’s delicious, they know what’s exciting. I don’t think that can ever be given by a robot,” he said.
SM is deploying “a lot of automation,” some of which are not visible, including AI in its customer hotlines, Tan said.
New technologies, including the robot concierge, are deployed in SM’s China malls before they are adopted in the Philippines, he said.
The robot concierge will be the latest addition to SM Megamall, where a recent expansion allowed global brands like H&M and Din Tai Fung to establish themselves in the Philippines.
SM Megamall is also home to a call center hub and the complex will soon include a luxury residential tower.