Field trial set to discover hidden and unexpected needs, recommend optimal travel plans
Tokyo, Jan 16, 2019 – (JCN Newswire) – Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., and EXest Inc. will conduct a field trial using artificial intelligence to discover unanticipated needs of travelers visiting Japan, propose tours or other activity plans, and verify the effectiveness of the new service’s application. The trial will commence from January 30 to March 31, 2019. This field trial will match foreign travelers with activity plans devised by licensed guides* on EXest’s “WOW U” platform by utilizing Fujitsu Laboratories-developed AI technology to take into account individual attributes and preferences, then recommending appropriate options**. Input data, such as age and travel goals, will be used to propose a variety of plans suitable for individual foreign travelers and to lead them to various tourist sites throughout Japan. Users’ level of satisfaction will also be verified. EXest will provide feedback on the test results while collaborating with Fujitsu and Fujitsu Laboratories to improve the precision of the AI technology. The companies will aim to offer recommendation services that provide optimal activity plans.
Foreign travelers to Japan now exceed 30 million annually, driving diversifying needs for sightseeing and cuisine, and leading to demands for enhanced planning. The Japanese government has announced its goal of achieving 40 million visitors annually by 2020, and improvements in infrastructure, staffing, content, and services to welcome these visitors are now top priority. Foreign travelers are currently concentrated in urban areas, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. To encourage travelers to a broader range of destinations throughout Japan, it is necessary to promote the appeal of regional histories and culture while raising the awareness of travelers. WOW U, operated by EXest, provides international travelers in Japan with trip plans for enjoying various activities throughout the country in tours led by licensed guides. At present, when EXest receives queries from travelers who seek to visit Japan, or from those visitors to the country who have no clear idea about places to go or things to do, the company’s dedicated staff responds by using their individual experience and expertise to select a plan that fits the traveler’s needs. At issue, however, is that preparing such proposals takes a considerable amount of time and cost. After EXest signed on to Fujitsu Accelerator Program*** in 2017, both companies have looked to AI for ways to find solutions to such issues. Fujitsu, Fujitsu Laboratories, and EXest will now conduct a field trial utilizing AI to propose activity plans that match the needs of service users without the burden of site operation, and will verify the effect of introducing AI and its performance.
Overview of Field Trial
1. Trial period
From Wednesday, January 30, to Sunday, March 31, 2019
WOW U, a matching platform for foreign travelers: http://wow-u.jp
3. Details of the field trial
This field trial will use WOW U, a platform operated by EXest, to match foreign travelers with licensed guides. Based on attribute data entered by users, such as age demographic and purpose of travel, AI technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories is used to match user attributes and interests and recommend appropriate options, inferring users’ interests to propose optimal activity plans. The companies will evaluate the website log and the degree of service user satisfaction with regard to whether or not a proposal was detailed and rich in activities and did it meet the increasingly diverse needs of foreign travelers. In addition, they will verify the effectiveness of their respective expertise by comparing against past results the success rate of activity plan sales and the time required to complete a sales contract. The role of each company in this field trial is as follows:
Evaluate improvements in the success rate of purchasing, number of page views and the time spent on the site of WOW U.
Prior to the field trial, interviews with visitors from abroad and questionnaire results were used to create a mathematical model that expressed the relationship between foreign travelers’ characteristics and preferences. This model was then used to develop the AI technology that matches service users and activity plans. Additionally, to verify the validity of the model that had been developed, Fujitsu deployed to WOW U a system (figure 2) to analyze the degree to which user preferences estimated by using AI matched with actual user preferences.
Develop and provide to WOW U APIs**** that will recommend the optimum activity plan based on the Fujitsu Laboratories-developed AI technology.
EXest aims to provide highly satisfactory services by enhancing its offerings with AI-based activity plan recommendations and other services including the planning of trips to Japan. Fujitsu and Fujitsu Laboratories will use the results of this field trial to improve the precision of the newly developed AI technology, and will explore its application in various settings for availability as Fujitsu’s currently commercially available AI technology, the Zinrai Platform Service.
WOW U-media: Videos of tourist sites from around Japan, for foreign travelers to Japan
*Licensed guides Professionals who have passed the national licensed guide examination, who can provide interpretation and tour guide services to travelers. Due to a legal amendment in January 2018, this qualification is no longer necessary to seek remuneration for tour guide services.
**AI technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories to match individual attributes and preferences to recommend appropriate options AI technology that creates a mathematical model of the relationship between user attributes and preferences. As such, the technology can grasp the users’ preferences simply by asking a few questions. Related press release: Kyushu University, Itoshima City, and Fujitsu Begin Field Trial Using Automatically Evolving AI to Facilitate Relocation (August 24, 2016).
***Fujitsu Accelerator Program A program aimed to provide new value by combining the technology and products of innovative startups with the products, solutions, and services of the Fujitsu Group.
****API: Application Programming Interface An interface for operating certain functions of software from outside that function. Most cloud services are operated by APIs.
About Fujitsu Laboratories
Founded in 1968 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. is one of the premier research centers in the world. With a global network of laboratories in Japan, China, the United States and Europe, the organization conducts a wide range of basic and applied research in the areas of Next-generation Services, Computer Servers, Networks, Electronic Devices and Advanced Materials. For more information, please see: http://www.fujitsu.com/jp/group/labs/en/.
About EXest Inc.
EXest is a tourism start-up that aims to connect people who would not otherwise be able to meet by introducing inbound visitors to lesser known places, food and culture in Japan and connecting them with local guides. Its mission is to contribute to local revitalization and internationalization in Japan. Its activities include running WOW U, a C2C tour platform, and WOW U-media which produces videos and articles together with local broadcasters and writers throughout Japan and beyond. EXest?s corporate website (Japanese): https://www.exest.jp
About Fujitsu Ltd
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 140,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.1 trillion yen (US $39 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018.
For more information, please see www.fujitsu.com.
This release at www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/.
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