Meet ZOE, the first virtual cruise assistant on board MSC Bellissima

ZOE – the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant – is poised to take MSC Cruises’ Guest Services to an exciting new level with guest-centric technology that will further enrich their cruise holiday. Developed in partnership with HARMAN and Samsung Electronics, ZOE is a voice-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) found in every cabin that can speak seven languages.

Able to answer hundreds of questions about the cruise, she can provide information about onboard services, provide guidance and suggestions or help to book a service. An easy to use device – guests just say, “OK ZOE”, and she’s ready to help. The advanced voice recognition feature makes it easy for everyone to control and access information using only voice commands.

I’ve spoken before about how technology is revolutionising the cruise industry, but the introduction of ZOE for MSC Cruises really is a step change in how guests will engage on board.  ZOE will launch on MSC Bellissima and will then be available on each new ship following this, including the upcoming MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa in 2020.

Co-creating innovation

This ground-breaking AI guest service has been developed in partnership with the MSC Cruises’ Business Innovation team and HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. The collaboration has brought together the best-in-class expertise in voice-enabled technology and cruise expertise as part of a shared vision for connected living, now extended to the cruise industry.

ZOE’s physical design features advanced audio with far field microphones and a professional quality speaker to provide the best audio experience. Guests will enjoy fast response times thanks to the integration of a top-of-the-range quad-core processor, and also have the opportunity to connect their phones directly to the device through Bluetooth to enjoy music, podcasts and more directly in their cabin. In the future, ZOE will be able to offer further personalisation and embedded experiences, and will also become a cross-channel personal assistant that will take on new forms within MSC for Me.

ZOE has been designed to enrich the MSC for Me ecosystem and as such interacts with the in-cabin TV. Long-term innovation partner Samsung Electronics, designed the Hotel Management System software that allows the personal assistant to connect with the TV to provide guests further in-depth information and other guest services.

Answering questions from the comfort of your cabin

To ensure ZOE could respond effectively to all guests, she has been programmed and trained to respond to more than 800 of the most commonly asked questions with thousands of different variants of each question. Testing was carried out on the conversation designs, ZOE’s natural speech recognition and ability to transform speech into text and back again, in addition to scores of other behavioural, experiential and performance tests. As an artificial intelligence solution, ZOE is designed to continue learning and developing her responses based on real guest interactions.

While ZOE acts as a 24/7 virtual personal cruise assistant, she is not designed to replace human interaction between crew and guest, but rather to provide guests with the flexibility to communicate and discover information from the comfort of their cabins.

 

I am so excited for this – but what do you think?  Let me know in the comments below or on social media.

For more information about MSC Bellissima take a look at my ongoing blog series, including a visit to see her at the shipyard.  For more information about Zoe, Bellissima and her itineraries take a look here.