The Future of Reception is Robotic
At Barbarian, reception is always buzzing. So to help stem the tide, we decided to bring our lobby up to speed — digitally. Our tech team devised the perfect solution: an Alexa-based reception tool connected to our internal messaging system, Slack. Her name? Barb.
We reprogrammed an Alexa Echo Show to act as a permanent, tasteful fixture in our lobby that would help guests search for, identify, and communicate with any employee in the office, all in real-time.
Our priority for this project was to build an intuitive user experience for people that Barb would be meeting and greeting. That meant ensuring this AI-receptionist would be able to offer a facsimile of what you’d expect from a human counterpart.
With that in mind, we programmed it with the objective of fluid name recognition and an ability to interact at the speed of conversation. If Barb was going to be welcoming visitors to our office for the first time, it needed to be an AI communicator par excellence. That’s where our tech team shone.
Amazon’s Alexa is already capable of recognizing common names like Smith. On our end, we created a series of homophones to help Barb pick up multisyllabic names it might normally stumble over. From there, we built a phonetic database where we stored names, employee headshots, and associated Slack IDs. This way, when someone asks after an employee, that input is turned into a Slack message and directed as a poll prompt to the employee in question.
With straightforward and seamless human-to-human contact — facilitated with the help of artificial intelligence — Barb is your genuinely helpful robot receptionist. Of course, regular old humans will still play a big role in welcoming guests and managing our office. They’ll just enjoy a little AI companionship going forward.
We’ve shared this code here, so your office can have its own personal AI receptionist. Don’t steal the name Barb, though.