back to article Japanese hotel chain sorry that hackers may have watched guests through bedside robots

Japanese hotel chain HIS Group has apologised for ignoring warnings that its in-room robots were hackable to allow pervs to remotely view video footage from the devices. The Henn na Hotel is staffed by robots: guests can be checked in by humanoid or dinosaur reception bots before proceeding to their room. Facial recognition …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the robots have now been updated."

    Recommended updating tool: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-245033-Hardwood-Lump-Hammer/dp/B000LFXCU4/ref=sr_1_43?keywords=hammer&qid=1571764194&sr=8-43

    1. willi0000000

      so . . . you think they should just take their lumps.

    2. Jeffrey Nonken

      Or this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/OX-Hammer-Sledgehammer-Fibreglass-Hammerhead/dp/B00JFY66LY/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?keywords=sledge+hammer+10lb&qid=1571765681&sprefix=sled&sr=8-8

    3. GnuTzu
      Big Brother

      Alexa, make the robot face the wall.

      Hasn't anyone realized the other voyeuristic technologies that are likely be in hotels, and other places.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    another thing I'll never experience

    1. Doubtful I'll be visiting Japan

    2. I'll never stay at a hotel with robots, even if it was called the Asimov Arms...

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: another thing I'll never experience

      You really should consider going to Japan, it's great. Food is awesome, the people are polite and friendly, it has an awesomely wacky mix of ancient and futuristic technologies and buildings all mixed together to give a culture that is so completely different to anything you will experience anywhere else in the world. Oh and the toilets are... an experience.

      But yeah you can definitely skip the robot hotels...

      1. Nameless Faceless Computer User

        Re: another thing I'll never experience

        meh. That might be true for the major hotel chains near Tokyo but I found that many buildings had toilets which were a hole in the floor with a hose to wash up. Our tour guide was apparently a WW II vet who was still fighting the war, pointed off into the distance, "If you look this way you will see a building which looks just like the Twin Towers in NYC." (there was no such building)

        1. MJB7

          Re: another thing I'll never experience

          many buildings had toilets which were a hole in the floor with a hose to wash up

          That counts as "an experience". He didn't say it would be a *pleasant* experience.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: another thing I'll never experience

          France still has toilets that are a hole in the floor too ( well it did 15 years ago ).

          1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

            Re: another thing I'll never experience

            France still has toilets that are a hole in the floor too ( well it did 15 years ago ).

            I was there this summer - it totally still does. Although only experienced in public loos and even then only usually the rural ones. And even then not all of them.

            1. Clunking Fist

              Re: another thing I'll never experience

              Nope: I've experienced it in a bar in central Paris. My PUBLIC loo experience was to be ushered to a (nice clean) trough on the wall... in the hallway, with women and children walking right by me. Weirdest experience ever. No wonder they didn't think twice about installing outdoor urinals in the streets.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: another thing I'll never experience

                "[...] in the hallway, with women and children walking right by me."

                IIRC Benny Hill did a skit on that theme in the 1980s. The target was the British prudish attitudes.

          2. chivo243 Silver badge

            Re: another thing I'll never experience

            France still has toilets that are a hole in the floor too ( well it did 15 years ago ).

            I've been there as recently as 3 years ago, and in the south, Toulouse, and have seen theses hole in the ground toilets.

            1. Scott 53

              Re: another thing I'll never experience

              , and in the south, Toulouse

              So you saw two of these conveniences?

        3. lglethal Silver badge
          Go

          Re: another thing I'll never experience

          Funny, never had that myself and we stayed in everything from top hotels, to hostels, to itty bitty b&bs. Or are you just referring to squat toilets? You will find Squats everywhere in Asia and the Middle East. Along with the washing yourself rather then using toilet paper. Toilets are very much a western invention that hasnt penetrated that deeply into asia.

          Still if the thoughts of a squat toilet are a bit much for you then travel outside of Europe or North America probably isnt recommended...

        4. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: another thing I'll never experience

          You missed the pile of rubble.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: another thing I'll never experience

          > "If you look this way you will see a building which looks just like the Twin Towers in NYC." (there was no such building)

          Exactly!

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: another thing I'll never experience

        If you're a man, don't press the "Tampax removal" button on the automated toilet ...

      3. Clunking Fist

        Re: another thing I'll never experience

        No way: not skipping robot hotels! I'll keep my boxers on, though....

        (Makes you wonder how many guests flash the robots.)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if they saw many bots?

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first
    WTF?

    Bedside robots???

    What!? WHAT!?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bedside robots???

      "dinosaur reception bots"

      Double WHAT !

      1. m10k

        Re: Bedside robots???

        The bots are actually little more than what you'd expect to find at Disney Land or any other theme park. They move their heads and arms a little, but they brazenly ignore customers jumping around in front of them, waving at them, or otherwise making a fool of themselves.

        To check in, you'd use the machines in front of the dinosaurs rather than the dinosaurs themselves. At this point it's only a gimmick to attract customers, but I see a lot of potential. Velociraptors screaming at and/or mauling customers with invalid credit cards or forgotten PINs, for instance.

        1. Simonio

          Re: Bedside robots???

          Can they look confused at their screens while pretending to be unable to find your booking?

          Also do they notice if you run over and puut your ---- in their mouth?

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Bedside robots???

        So do you "man" your front desk with Robo-Raptors or Tyranosaurus Receptionists?

        Can there also be Brontosaurus Butlers? Not to mention the Squid-o-matic Sexbot 2000 by the bed...

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Bedside robots???

          Not to mention the Squid-o-matic Sexbot 2000 by the bed...

          For Japan it should be an octopus.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bedside robots???

          "So do you "man" your front desk with Robo-Raptors or Tyranosaurus Receptionists?

          Basil Fawlty replicants?

  5. IceC0ld

    Hotel is staffed by robots

    I come here to be entertained and informed, and as usual, this is right up there, the hacking part not so much, we are made more aware each passing day of the vulnerability of practically any software available for use, so here it is the [ Hotel is staffed by robots ] bit that caught my eye,

    novel idea, but is, I fear, yet one more step towards the jobless economy foretold in every bleak forward looking film I have ever watched, does no one in the design and implementation of these 'ideas' ever watch movies ffs ?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Hotel is staffed by robots

      >>>does no one in the design and implementation of these 'ideas' ever watch movies<<<

      Of course they do, but they all believe they'll be in the 0.0001% who don't have to eat recycled food (it's good for the environment and ok for you).

    2. Notas Badoff

      Re: Hotel is staffed by robots

      Japan has a small population problem - the employable population is getting smaller. Even their local mafia is a fraction its former size.

      Hotels may legitimately have a hard time staffing. And they would rather try robots than suffer the indignity of letting non-Japanese workers into the economy.

      Long-term, Japan may end up looking like Saudi Arabia, with a large fraction of the population being temporary foreign workers, Korean and Filipino, once Japan more completely expands its work permitting.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Hotel is staffed by robots

        Mayhap; but as every other country ages its population eventually there will be no pool of peoples to steal foreign workers from.

  6. Richard Jones 1
    FAIL

    Humans Not Optional?

    No human anywhere has ever done anything of this sort, oh wait, it required a human to trigger this issue. Still, it was shoddy programming to allow simple cracking and rotten acceptance testing to allow problems to roam free.

    I wonder if the robots enjoyed their illicit viewing.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Humans Not Optional?

      I wonder if the robots enjoyed their illicit viewing.

      Perhaps it's cost savings for the hotel? The guest wants to watch "porn" and the hotel provides a list of rooms with the appropriate action occurring.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Humans Not Optional?

        It's Japan - the most popular channel would be the humanoid robots doing it with each other .... with tentacles ....

        1. Muppet Boss

          Re: Humans Not Optional?

          >It's Japan - the most popular channel would be the humanoid robots doing it with each other .... with tentacles ....

          "Adventures of a a robot operator inside a Japanese love hotel" for those quest addicts.

    2. Mister Fluffy

      Re: Humans Not Optional?

      はい、ハッハッハハッハッハッハしました。アップロードおよびライブストリームは、当社のウェブサイトの肉生物で入手できます

      1. John Mangan

        Re: Humans Not Optional?

        @Mister Fluffy

        That's easy for you to say.

      2. NetApex

        Re: Humans Not Optional?

        Quick translation: "Yes, ha ha ha ha ha. Uploads and live streams are available on our website meat creatures"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Humans Not Optional?

      "I wonder if the robots enjoyed their illicit viewing."

      They probably get their thrills from watching the bedside Teasmade reaching boiling point.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    More than robots

    Some Japanese hotels have ruggedized Android phones that are always active with personal assistant software. They auto-reboot to the assistant if you turn them off or try to wipe them from the bootloader menu. I tried to hide them to run the battery dead but the staff found them and placed them back in the desk's charging cradle facing the bed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More than robots

      Couldn't you just leave them in the bootloader menu?

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: More than robots

      ruggedized Android phones

      Oops! I dropped it.

      Really hard!

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: More than robots

        From the 14th floor.

      2. stiine Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: More than robots

        Can they swim?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More than robots

      That's the "Handy" system and it's not offered only by hotels in Japan.

      It gives you free calls during your stay and you can take the phone out and use it on 4G networks too.

      No one forces you to use it.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: More than robots

        I must remember to pack tinfoil if I ever go to Japan.

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: More than robots

        No one forces you to use it?

        It had cameras, it had microphones, it spoke suggestions, there was no means to turn it off, and staff would find it and recharge it for you if you attempted to kill the battery. It had a hardware deadman switch that made sure the software was always on.

        1. DryBones

          Re: More than robots

          So, hand it to them at the front desk, and say, "No thank you"?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More than robots

          "there was no means to turn it off"

          In the interest of, "Can that be right?!" I just switched the one in my room off with the power button on the side.

          So, not an issue.

          1. Clunking Fist

            Re: More than robots

            So you observed the screen going blank? All good then...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: More than robots

              I get the feeling you don't get out of your foil-lined bunker much...?

  8. Mr Dogshit

    We've got a dinosaur receptionist where I work, too.

    1. Clunking Fist

      My current boss is a dragon. My last boss was an oversized vulva.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        I've had plenty of bosses who were undersized penises. Maybe they should get together . . .

  9. hatti

    Receptasaurus

    Meat based staff, love it!

    That's a generic moniker I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of on el Reg. but I wonder if it fully applies to vegans, just wondering?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Receptasaurus

      Oh yes, long term vegans will be the most sought after meat following the robot led collapse of society.

      1. hatti

        Re: Receptasaurus

        Be careful not to mention Skynet!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Receptasaurus

        "[...] long term vegans will be the most sought after meat

        H G Wells made a prediction similar to that back in 1895.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

    [Checks Bedside Table]

    No 'bot here.

    There is a whacking big TV and an LG fridge that is actually a clothes freshener though.

    As well as the free to use 4G handset.

    And a heated bog seat with an integrated pressure washer.

    1. MrSeaneyC

      Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

      Stayed at the Henn-Na Ginza last month and was the same. Also don't trust the Handy at all, it still had the email and details of the previous user on it even though it was supposed to have wiped itself at 1300hrs that day (before I checked in at 1600hrs) - Made sure that was unplugged in an attempt to make it die, and turned it away from the bed!

      Perhaps I should have put it in the LG "Styler" and put it on a full 2hr steam cycle...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

      Heated toilet seats. True mark of civilisation.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

        Heated toilet seats. True mark of civilisation.

        No they aren't! Toilet seats should be cold. A warm toilet seat suggests that someone else has been there before you.

        Having yourself washed and blow-dried afterwards though is a matter of taste.

        1. NXM Bronze badge

          Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

          According to The Meaning of Liff, the correct term for this is 'Shoeburyness', the uncomfortable feeling caused by sitting on a toilet seat warmed by someone else's bottom.

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

          A warm toilet seat suggests that someone else has been there before you.

          In the days of the Roman Empire you would have had your slave pre-warm the seat for you. Marble can be quite chilly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm staying in a Henn Na Hotel right now ...

            "In the days of the Roman Empire you would have had your slave pre-warm the seat for you. "

            Also a tradition at English public schools in the 20th century where a "fag" was a selected junior boy at the beck and call of a VIth Former. The latter was shown in the Lindsay Anderson film "IF...." (1968) NSFW. Their duties varied from making tea and toast - to warming toilet seats - and possibly sometimes more personal services.

  11. FozzyBear
    Alien

    I'd be more worried if it was a cephalopod next to the bed.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      If that were the case then there certainly would be a camera as well to broadcast the ensuing antics!!!

  12. Sureo

    Maybe other robots should stay at this hotel.

  13. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

    I took two Australian lasses to the wonderfully named 'pop-up' Nairn film festival. One heartbroken, one lesbian. We saw one excellent film about child abuction [Crow/Wrona, Dorota Kedzierzawska] , and one crappy film about, I dunno. Tilda Swinton came on stage to talk about cinema about five metres in front of us, and the lesbian lass lost the plot. "Oh my god, oh my god, I'm just going to stare at her because I'll never have this opportunity again."

    I whispered in her ear, "Go for it. She is a film star, she probably enjoys you ogling her. Try to stop salivating though."

    I think Tilda had heard her because she was staring back at us.

    My point is anyone who paid to stay in a hotel room with robots presumably wanted to be spied on, wouldn't care or are too stupid to worry about.

    One of my jobs in the nineties was above a toy maker, and I found a computer chip on my shoe sole. It was like a tiny LED, but it was a camera. It scared me silly because it made me realise there was no way to detect them, AND they were already putting them in toys. I went through a brief period where I'd undress under bed sheets in hotel rooms, and then I thought, "Aw fuck it!" and would happily masturbate in police cells. There is so much free porn online today that there is no financial gain in covertly recording me.

    The assumption that "pervy" hotel staff watch clients having sex or taking a shower is dubious. I stayed at one German hotel with drop dead gorgeous staff, and it had a pool that was open until midnight. The staff used the pool after midnight, and admitted, well, I won't fuel your imagination but you are correct. If the hotel owner was spying on anyone then it wasn't me.

    "The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor" ~ Leonard Cohen, Tower of Song

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

      Well that was... strange.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

        It's called culture, bub, and I'll continue shoving it down your throats until you start liking it. I've posted two poems today, in context, and if the machines of loving grace permit then I'll post a fourth.

        The trick is slick code to manage

        all the if, for, and while statements

        in a optimized number of lines.

        Pass a list, fix the syntax, import all the variables.

        Comment your lines and indent where necessary,

        leaving line breaks and whitespace

        for readability.

        — Monica Sharman

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

      would happily masturbate in police cells

      That really just raises more questions about you than it answers

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

        The first one being 'which hotel?'

      2. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

        "That really just raises more questions about you than it answers"

        It's healthy to masturbate at least once a day, for your prostrate. I'll go down to lung cancer or bowel cancer or whatever, but my prostrate gland will remain pristine.

        Have you ever spent the night in jail? Well, I have

        Peace protestor and poor judgement of people are my major flaws. I do have tips if you are expecting gaol. Nicotine patches!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballerina_Ballroom_Cinema_of_Dreams

        [The big, cheap hotel in Aschaffenburg]

        1. lucki bstard

          Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

          Yep, no cell phone, laptop, books etc. No IT Manager to ask me something, most relaxing night I had for a long time. Staff were funny and the locals left me alone. Food was good as well.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

      I stayed at one German hotel with drop dead gorgeous staff

      Have you noticed that in Germany during checkin, the nice wimmen will be flirting with you. Whereas at the checkout it will a woman build like a barn-door, with Bundeswehr tats, and she is absolutely not flirting. Lord knows what happens if the card is rejected.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Danger Will Robinson!

    Danger!

    1. FozzyBear

      Re: Danger Will Robinson!

      The Lube is almost gone.

      Danger Will Robinson

  15. jelabarre59

    Love-ly

    These wouldn't happen to be a chain of "Love Hotels" would it? In which case the robots are more likely to see something of interest than your typical overnight-stay establishment.

    Yes, that's right, in the the apocryphal "No-Tell Motel" (the one that rents rooms by the hour) is an official, legitimate business in Japan. Even a company that started out manufacturing playing-cards in 1889 (I think they were called "Nintendo") was briefly in the Love Hotel business.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Love-ly

    Japan has everything.

    Presumably the cleaning staff gets paid extra, or do the robots do this as well?

    AC/DC

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If ou don't want to know the result, look away now.

    I find that the cat watching puts me off my stroke enough I have to shoo it out. I would feel distinctly uneasy with an expressionless robot watching (and on this occasion I don't mean the missus).

    1. Neal L

      Re: If ou don't want to know the result, look away now.

      I imagine you would also feel distinctly uneasy if the wife was watching you do the do from the corner of the room.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If ou don't want to know the result, look away now.

      "I find that the cat watching puts me off my stroke [...]"

      Cats have a habit of pouncing and using their claws/fangs on things jiggling about.

  18. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    a bedside robot will assist with other requirements

    Such as?

  19. fajensen
    Joke

    I got an for a Robot named Amelia:

    Now I just need a 3D printer and an API so I can properly interview her:

    https://www.ipsoft.com/digitalworkforce/?utm_campaign=DW.ai%20Launch&utm_source=GDN_DW%20Launch&utm_medium=GDN_DW%20Launch

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