Beyond paper documents, how does the future of human identity look like? How will human identity be verified when they move from one place to another? Will we still carry physical documents? Will it become a chip in our body to identify us? Is our human body biometric features alone sufficient? What about our smart devices?
We do not have all the answers for certain, but we could share with you the progress we see so far.
KELLY is Getting Smarter and Making Guests Happier
In our previous blog in 2019 May, we talked about KELLY, our purpose-built, narrow artificial intelligence that could recognize hotel guests and help them check-in and out of properties quickly. Over the past 6 months, the number of rooms she was serving grew from 10,000 to 13,000. The number of identity verifications she has completed doubled from 500,000 to 1 million. We have completed more check-ins in the last 6 months alone than the entire previous year. Our customers’ hotel ratings are improving on TripAdvisor, with 96% of the guests rating these digital experiences as positive. Adoption and guest happiness are important validations and progress for her, and she does not show any sign of slowing down from this exponential growth and adoption globally.
Meet EVA, the E-Visitor Authentication System
On Nov 6th, 2019, Singapore government has announced an initiative called E-Visitor Authentication (EVA) for the hotel industry, which will allow Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to automatically authenticate guests’ validity of stay for regulatory reporting. Previously, hotels had to manually verify the guest’s validity of stay as part of the regulatory requirement in Singapore.
Using KELLY’s artificial neural networks and facial recognition technology, our customers were able to automate the photo ID verification of check-in by just taking a selfie. However, verifying the validity of stay typically includes checking their travel visas or entry stamp statuses. Together, EVA and KELLY have closed the verification loop completely, allowing our customer hotels to deliver a frictionless experience for their hotel guests.
Overcoming Limitations of Computer Vision
We responded and became one of the awardees of Singapore Tourism Board’s Innovation Challenge in 2017 and began working on a solution to solve a prevalent pain point for hoteliers at front-office — reducing guest check-in time.
One of the challenges we faced when designing the product was how to verify the validity of stay for international guests. Training a model to recognize shapes, patterns, and colors was the easy part. While experimenting with the various techniques to automate the validity of stay verification, we found three challenges:
1. When we tried out the user journey, we realized that it would be frustrating for travelers to search for the visa page in their own passport, then take a photo using their smartphones. If they are frequent travelers with multiple visa stamps on their passports, it would take even a longer time for them to find it.
2. Anyone could find an image of a visa stamp on the internet or snap a photo from somebody else’s passport and try to pass that off as theirs. Computer-vision checking the passport number on the visa page against the main page’s passport number reduces the likelihood of fraud, but it is not foolproof.
3. When international immigration systems go digital in the future, physical visa stamps on paper could become less relevant. This means that we would need to spend precious engineering resources to build a highly fragmented neural network that needs to be custom trained for each market’s validity of stay stamp, which could become obsolete before it even hits a global scale.
The Shift to Mobile
Today, we have successfully rolled out KELLY by interfacing her with EVA on mobile phones, freeing up our customers’ hotel staff to engaging with guests. In Singapore, GTRIIP KELLY and EVA are fully integrated, bringing about an even more seamless and secure experience for both travelers and hotel properties.
We also took in customer feedback on how it was difficult to justify spending extra capital to install depreciating hardware, such as physical kiosks, in their properties. Some hospitality brands also do not wish to promote self-service kiosks that lack a human touch. GTRIIP is a SaaS product, making it more economical, scalable, and sustainable. A software solution also produces a smaller carbon footprint so it is more environmentally friendly than physical identity solutions such as plastic IDs, access cards or hardware kiosks.
We are excited to see KELLY and EVA transforming hospitality to make human experiences better. Do look forward to experiencing it on your smartphone the next time you visit Singapore and stay at one of our customers’ hotels.