Imagine opening your hotel room door with a ringtone, monitoring your health via the bathroom mirror and having the temperature, lighting and other amenities adjust themselves based on your personal preferences.
Actually, said room has already been imagined for you. It’s called Guestroom 20X (nee Guestroom 2010) and it’s on display at HITEC, an annual lodging and hospitality conference for financial and technology professionals that runs June 22–24 in Orlando, Fla.
Now in its fourth iteration, this year’s exhibit features nearly 30 new and near-future technologies that promise to reinvent every aspect of the lodging experience. Some are little more than intriguing ideas at this point, but others are already starting to show up in hotels around the country. In fact, depending on your next trip, you might even run into some of the amenities below:
No keycard? Sounds good
You probably already use your cell phone as a camera, music player or gaming device; why not use it as your room key, too? That’s the idea behind OpenWays’ Crypto Acoustic Credential technology, which will unlock an appropriately equipped door when your phone emits a unique (and encrypted) audio code. Even better, you can receive your code before you check in, bypassing the front desk altogether.
According to the company, the system will work with any cell phone now on the market, although smartphone owners will likely get first crack at it. In fact, Holiday Inn expects to roll out a (smartphone-only) pilot program soon at the Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare Rosemont and Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center.
Your room, your way
A room that lets you manage everything from the lights to the TV to the drapes with a single remote is nice. One that “greets” you pre-loaded with your personal preferences is even better. The SuiteSystems Guestroom Control from Control4 Corp. is designed to do just that, keeping your choices — stereo off at midnight, for example, or drapes open at 8 a.m. — on file for future visits. Check it out yourself at the Aria Resort and Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter in Las Vegas, the Montage Beverly Hills boutique hotel and the recently opened Trump SoHo New York, among others.
Hotel services via touch screen
While the SuiteSystem remote provides door-to-drapes control, the SmartTouch system from Incentient LLC focuses on the bigger guest-services picture. Using its touch-screen panel, you’ll be able to access all manner of hotel services, from room service and the bell desk to on-site restaurants and spa facilities. The system is currently being used as a wireless wine list by restaurants across the country, with hotels in Chicago, Miami, New York and other cities expected to roll out in-room units later this year.
You probably won’t see one of those high-tech Dyson vacuum cleaners in your hotel room any time soon, but you may see one of the company’s innovative fans. Looking like an oversized magnifying glass without the glass, the Dyson Air Multiplier draws in air and amplifies it 15 times by passing it through an aerofoil-shaped ring that’s as futuristic-looking as it is free of blades altogether. The fans retail for $300–$330, but you can try one out at the W Los Angeles-Westwood, which offers them in its poolside cabanas and by request for in-room use.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
TV in the bathroom mirror? That’s so 2007. If the folks at James Law Cybertecture International in Hong Kong have their way, the well-equipped hotel bathroom of the future will feature a Cybertecture Mirror that will serve as a “reflective window to a digital life.” Akin to one of those digital windshield displays, it’ll display the time, temperature, traffic, news and even personal health data with the touch of a button. The company expects to start production by the end of the year.
Don’t toss that trash
Burn it instead, with the Miniature Waste Incinerator, an in-room unit designed to heat garbage until it spontaneously combusts. Configured to capture and re-circulate exhaust gases, the unit will save both energy and trash-disposal costs. Alas, it’s strictly a prototype at this point — for some reason, the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor from the “Back to the Future” movies comes to mind — but if it ever comes to pass, it could turn out to be a housekeeper’s best friend.
Best. Bed. Ever.
Finally, when it’s time to hit the sack, consider the HiCan High Fidelity Canopy, which is part sleeping unit, part entertainment center and all-around awesome. Shaped like a king-sized, open-sided cube, it features a state-of-the-art sound system, built-in PC/gaming console and projector that links to a 70-inch screen that slides down at the foot of the bed.
Alas, you’ll probably have to wait to crawl under the covers as the Italian company that makes the bed has so far delivered the unit to only a handful of private customers in Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Unless you run with that crowd, an invitation for a sleepover is probably not in the cards.
Rob Lovitt is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com. If you'd like to respond to one of his columns or suggest a story idea, drop him an e-mail.
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