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Smart hotels are winning the smart home race
These upgrades will make your boring old house look dumb.
There’s no way around it: Life is becoming more automated. Between smart house and wearables, technology is quantifying and streamlining everything we do, and more businesses are adopting the trend. Physical retailers are using whatever technologies they can to prove themselves alongside Internet businesses, and that includes hotels.
And really, what better thing is there than sleep for a hotel to automate and quantify?
Westin Hotels & Resorts has actually been in the business of improving slumber for a while now. In 1999, the company conducted a sleep study and found that 63 percent of travelers say that a good night’s sleep is the most important service a hotel can provide; 84 percent said that a luxurious bed would make a hotel room more attractive to them. Armed with this data, Starwood Hotels helped Westin develop the Heavenly Bed, which has gone on to be known as one of the best beds in the hotel industry, so much so that guests began making inquiries on how to buy them for their homes.
To celebrate the Heavenly Bed’s 15th anniversary, Westin announced a partnership with Lark Technologies to give guests better sleep through the use of wearable tech. “The Sleep Sensor Wearable-Lending Program, our initiative with Lark Technologies, allows Westin guests to achieve optimal sleep through pattern tracking and [providing] personalized virtual coaching tips rooted in science,” states Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader for Westin Hotels & Resorts.
The lending program is mainly comprised of three wearables: the Lark Up Sleep Monitor, the Silent Alarm Clock, and the Personal Sleep Coach, all available on loan during your stay.
Operation is easy: After plugging the dock and fully charging the sleep sensor, use your iPhone’s Bluetooth to connect to the device. Once devices are paired, you will be prompted to download the Lark Up App from the App store. When you are ready to sleep, launch the app, set the alarm, and wear the available wristband. The vibrating silent alarm will wake you up, and you can check the app for data captured overnight and interact with the personal sleep coach.
“Lark’s scientific sleep monitor tracks millions of micro-movements during the night so users can review their sleep patterns in the morning and track improvement over time, tagging the factors that are affecting their sleep,” explains Povinelli. “With the Personal Sleep Coach, guests can see advanced data visualizations of their sleep patterns and receive expert explanations of the problem areas.”
Westin isn’t the only hotel chain providing guests with technology-assisted amenities. Early last year we started hearing reports that the hotel industry would be diving into technology assistance. Automating interaction between guests and staff and free use of company-installed devices (like iPads and e-book readers preloaded with content) have become fairly standard.
Hotels like the Aria in Las Vegas, The Wit in Chicago, and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles have began using motion-and-temperature-sensing technology, allowing guests to control lights, curtains, and heating and cooling systems through their movement as well their body heat.
Kimpton Hotel’s Eventi in New York is already calling itself one of tech-friendliest spots in the city, with the launch of its “Tween Trap” amenity that includes free use of Instagram printers to turn ‘grams into physical books, ultra-vision goggles to people watch in the dark, and iPad Mini, Playstation Vita, and Beats product rentals—all of which are designed to keep younger guests happy and connected during their stays.
“For the rest of Eventi’s hotel-staying demographic, your traditional business center is also becoming a thing of the past, with the rise of a high-tech business bar that promises to furnish you with every technological gadget you can think of, whether for business or for pleasure,” shares Rob Andrews, Director of Operations for Kimpton NYC in an email to the Daily Dot. Think Apple products, reading tablets, digital cameras and GoPros, and accessories for any electronics you might have forgotten at home, all available on loan for the length of your stay.
Ink48, another Kimpton Hotel property, is launching the “Forgot It, We’ve Got It—Runner’s Edition” amenity kit, which, like Westin’s wearable-lending program, is aimed at providing guests with a means to continue tracking bodily activity. “It includes a pre-loaded iPod Shuffle with headphones, an athletic sports watch, running belt with water bottles, and a map of the Hudson River running path. The hotel also provides energy bars and sports drinks in your hotel room upon return,” says Linda Chin, General Manager at Ink48.
The quick pace of development makes it seem like eventually we’ll blur the lines between normal life and vacation life. The smart home is still just beyond our grasp, but the smart hotel is edging nearer at an impressively fast pace. That vacation hangover we all suffer from upon returning back home is going to be even worse now, what with the forced digital detox.
Photo via Matt_Weibo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Jam Kotenko is a technology reporter who specializes in coverage of Instagram, Facebook, and other social media apps. Her work has been published by Digital Trends, Bustle, and Gotta Be Mobile.