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Peeping robots? Japan’s ‘Weird Hotel’ just got weirder

Will Japan’s ‘Weird Hotel’ turn into giant peep show?

Japan’s Henn-na Hotel chain (whose name translates to ‘Weird Hotel’) made headlines earlier this year with its amusing robot “layoffs” as part of an “effort” to hire more human workers.

However, the company may now instead struggle to attract human customers, after new research has found that its room assistant could be hacked to spy on guests, putting it on a whole new level of ‘weird’. The odds that prospective guests will surely be put off by the prospect of bedside peeping-Tombots are quite high.

The infamous chain, that has been among Japan’s quirkier inns with its robotic dinosaur desk clerks, said there was “very little risk” that its room assistant could be hacked to spy on guests, but was nonetheless forced to admit that the cameras and microphones equipped on its ‘Tapia’ bedside robots were vulnerable to hacks.

“In the future, we will operate with the safety and security of our customers as our top priority,” the hotel chain said in a post to its website earlier this month, fessing up to the security gap, adding that all “countermeasures against the unauthorized access method… have been completed.”

The hotel was contacted over the summer by cyber security engineer Lance R. Vick, who discovered the vulnerability, but after nearly three months of radio silence from Henn-na, the tech expert went public.

“The bed facing Tapia robot deployed at the famous Robot Hotels in Japan can be converted to offer anyone remote camera/mic access to all future guests,” Vick said in a tweet earlier this month.