How Celebrity Cruises is using smartphones to put power in passengers’ hands

celebrity edge magic carpet
Whether plane, train, or automobile, these modes of travel are getting more and more connected. As each becomes another “device” within the Internet of Things, they are able to provide real-time information and personalization that wasn’t possible before. Now, we can add cruises into the mix. Earlier this year, Carnival revealed its connected Medallion technology, which helps passengers tailor experiences – both on and off the ship – to their needs. And now, Celebrity Cruises is following suit with its approach at enhancing the cruising experience, and it’s using the smartphone as the starting point. We recently visited Celebrity’s Innovation Lab, in Miami, to look at some of the things the company has in store.

Celebrity unveiled plans for its next ship, Celebrity Edge, which also serves as a showcase for Celebrity’s take on connectivity. Aside from a modern design that puts guests closer to the edge of the ocean, a lot of the new experiences rely on the incorporation of smartphones and home automation.

Part of the Royal Caribbean family of cruise companies, the majority of Celebrity’s target demographic own smartphones, according to Tim Klauda, vice president of Product at Celebrity. The company is utilizing that factor in helping guests find their way, order drinks and food, control their cabin, and more. These experiences may also extend to Celebrity’s other cruises as the new concept does not necessarily require any new hardware installments on the ship itself.

Virtual Concierge

Celebrity showed a proof-of-concept mobile app that lets guests control the cruise experience, even before setting sail. For example, guests can pre-book reservations at restaurants aboard the cruise, see key details such as the ports of call, the itinerary for each day, and more.

Also, with the app, guests can add additional excursions to the itinerary, find tons of relevant information like passenger reviews for restaurants, and even receive navigation assistance for moving around the ship (think of Google Maps driving navigation). When on the cruise itself, the app begins suggesting places guests can go and things to do.

The app has a chat bot called the Virtual Concierge, and it can help make dinner reservations, recommend bars and events, order drinks, and more. It keeps track of behavior the more it’s used, so if it recognizes a guest ordered a vodka martini before, it may recommend the drink again. It can also see if a guest is traveling with a companion, so if a drink request is made, the concierge automatically asks if the travel partner would like a drink as well.

And, the more you explore and experience what the cruise has to offer, the more points you can get to earn badges.

“Badging is fun … it’s also a way for us to get guests to explore parts of the ship they might not have known about, and to reveal new entities to them and different places they might want to play around in,” Klauda said.

Wayfinding

The ship’s crew needs to be able to track passengers to deliver food and drinks, but passengers also need to be able to navigate the ship precisely. It’s tough to rely on GPS in the middle of the ocean, and that’s why the company plans to employ existing Wi-Fi access points on the ship to locate passengers with the help of sensors on their smartphone.

The company said it has gotten the accuracy down to six inches, but it’s still working on making sure the location tracking technology compensates for a cruises’ rocking motion as well.

Faster check-in

The check-in process at the port can be painful, so Celebrity is looking to facial recognition and its companion mobile app to make the start of the journey seamless. Guests would fill out and validate a lot of information via the app before the journey, and at the port a security terminal will be equipped with a camera with the ability to detect passengers’ faces and pull up their information.

“This could be a part of your security check so you don’t have an extra stop, instead of going to the counter and getting all that [paperwork],” Klauda said.

Cabin automation

Cabins will come with touchscreen panels that allow guests to control every aspect of their room, such as turning lights on and off. Preset options can automatically help set the mood at any time of day — guests can configure their room to turn on the lights as the alarm rings at 8 a.m. or turn off the lights before bedtime.

This also helps the company be a little more energy efficient, as lights will turn off automatically if the room recognizes it’s empty.

celebrity edge

Rooms can also identify when a guest’s smartphone nears the door, which will then unlock automatically. RFID cards are still available to unlock doors in case guests don’t own a smartphone, or as a backup.

Movies & TV

He created comics, movies, and superheroes. But Stan Lee lived for joy

Stan Lee was a creator, a celebrity, an icon, and beneath it all, a real-life good guy with all the same human qualities that made his superheroes so relatable. And his greatest joy was sharing his creations with the world.
Gaming

PlayStation 4 celebrates fifth anniversary with ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ bundle

The PlayStation 4 is officially five years old today, November 15, and to celebrate the anniversary, Sony is offering a new console bundle that includes a free copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Computing

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Cars

Jaguar’s rally-ready F-Type roadster is happiest off the pavement

Jaguar is celebrating the XK120's 70th birthday by turning the F-Type roadster into a rally warrior. Built to FIA specifications, the model receives suspension and braking upgrades plus a full roll cage to protect the occupants.
Mobile

Best iPhone 7 Plus screen protectors to shield your big, beautiful display

Cracked screens are expensive to replace. Fortunately for you, we've rounded up what's available in terms of protection for Apple's large iPhone 7 Plus. Here are the best screen protectors you can buy.
Computing

Four fake cryptocurrency apps were listed on the Google Play Store

It is a dangerous time to be going after crytocurrency on Android. Four bogus cryptocurrency apps were spotted on the Google Play Store this week, according to a report from cybersecurity researcher Lukas Stefanko. 
Mobile

New sensor from L’Oréal tracks UV exposure to keep your skin safe from the sun

L'Oréal has announced a new wearable sensor that attaches to your clothing and can track ultraviolet light. The sensor uses NFC instead of Bluetooth -- meaning it doesn't need a battery to work properly.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.
Mobile

Motorola Moto G7: Here’s everything we know

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Mobile

T-Mobile's new Revvl 2, Revvl 2 Plus are now available for purchase

Last year, T-Mobile launched its own line of branded smartphones. As a follow-up to their predecessors, the carrier has unveiled the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus -- complete with a sleeker design. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
1 of 2