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CT part of new travel chapter for Airbnb

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A Cape Town experience will form part of the new Trips offering being launched in 12 cities around the world by Airbnb.

Airbnb has unveiled the most significant new development since it began eight years ago. Its Trips offering opens up travel beyond accommodation to bring together where travellers stay, what they do, and the people they meet.

Trips launched recently with three key areas, namely Experiences, Places and Homes, with Flights and Services to be added in the future.

“Trips will make travel magical again by immersing travellers in communities around the world,” said Airbnb in a statement. Travellers can “get unprecedented access to local passions and interests, like violin making in Paris or marathon running in Kenya; discover the hidden gems that only locals know about via personal recommendations; and socialise with other travellers and locals at exciting events”

Having already transformed where people stay when they travel through people-powered hospitality, via three million bookable homes, Airbnb says it is taking this same people-focused approach to the rest of the trip. In doing so, it is providing a way for people to make money from their passions and interests.

“Until now, Airbnb has been about homes,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO.  “Airbnb has just recently launched Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. We want to make travel magical again by putting people back at the heart of every trip.”

Airbnb provided the following information:

Experiences are handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts – be it a single activity like a Samurai Swordplay workshop or an immersive multi-day experience like learning about and driving classic cars in Malibu. Experiences offer unprecedented access and deep insights into communities and places that you wouldn’t otherwise come across, such as Truffle Hunting in Tuscany or the grime music scene in London.

Trips launches with around 500 Experiences in 12 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul. From today, budding hosts in those and a further 39 cities worldwide can request to list their Experience.

A number of Experiences will also be available where guests can give something back to communities through non-profit organisations. In Detroit for example, Khali Sweeney provides an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at his Downtown Boxing Gym that provides local children with an after-school program of healthy snacks, homework time, and boxing lessons.

Places – Guidebooks, Meet ups and Audio Walks

Trips brings places to life through the people that live there, reflecting the recommendations of hundreds of thousands of Airbnb hosts, neighbourhood insiders and local influencers and is an alternative to aggregated tourist lists that funnel people to the same places.

With Insider Guidebooks, Airbnb has identified cultural experts and neighbourhood insiders to recommend the hidden gems within their city. Find the perfect run from a marathoner, the best dive bar from a local mixologist and the next great undiscovered restaurant from an up-and-coming chef. 100 Insider Guidebooks will be available at launch in six cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul – with more coming soon.

As well as Insider Guidebooks, Places includes over one million individual recommendations worldwide from Airbnb’s home hosts, recommending their favourite hidden gems in their neighbourhoods, from cafes and restaurants to parks and other local attractions. A partnership with restaurant booking platform, Resy, will make it possible for people in future to book tables at great local restaurants directly through the Airbnb app.

Airbnb has also struck an exclusive partnership with Detour to offer access to amazing experiential audio walking tours allowing people to discover neighbourhoods in a totally unique and authentic way. At launch, audio tours will initially be available for Los Angeles with San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul to follow by Spring 2017.

With Trips, Airbnb also wants to make travel more social, helping connect the thousands of Airbnb users in a city on any given night. Meet ups within Places will let local businesses host one-off or regular events for Airbnb guests and locals to connect with each other.

Homes

With three million homes available to book across 191 countries, Airbnb offers the largest and most diverse range of unique accommodation options for travellers which will now be available to book alongside Experiences in available cities.

Making travel easy

Booking travel today can be complicated and stressful. With Trips, Airbnb aims to make it easy with one app to book most of your travel needs. Trip Itinerary is a new feature that brings together everything the traveller needs to know into one simple timeline, with the ability to easily book and add Experiences or things to do. Over time, this capability will evolve based on machine learning to dynamically suggest personalised and contextual, i.e. based on location, recommendations during a Trip. Airbnb’s vision is to ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip, making it both easy and magical from start to finish.

Identity Authentication

The launch of Trips also sees the introduction of a new identity authentication process that the Airbnb Experiences Community will be using. Hosts and guests will be asked to scan an official government ID (for example a passport, or driving license) and then take a simple selfie. After the ID is authenticated, the ID and selfie will be reviewed to confirm that both pictures appear to match. Having a more robust standard of authenticating identity will make the Airbnb community stronger and reaffirms Airbnb’s ongoing commitment to authenticity, reliability, and security. This new identity authentication step is required for all Experiences users, and is also currently being tested for homes bookings. Trips also leverages Airbnb’s existing Trust & Safety measures including a 250+ person global 24/7 support team, secure payments, messaging, profiles & reviews, and a new $1 million liability insurance program for eligible Experience hosts.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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