Hotel chain app turns your smartphone into a room key

hotel chain app turns smartphone room key starwood keyless door

Detailed by the Wall Street Journal, Starwood Hotels & Resorts is transitioning to a keyless entry system at two locations in the United States. Rolling out first at Aloft Hotel locations in New York City and Silicon Valley, guests of the hotel can download a mobile application to their smartphone before arriving. Rather than visiting the front desk to check into their room, the guest simply checks-in through the app and can go directly to their hotel room for the night.

At the door, the guest pulls up a virtual key on the smartphone and unlocks the door by either tapping or turning the phone in a twist motion near the handle. Utilizing low power Bluetooth technology, the smartphone communicates with a sensor mounted to the door and unlocks the room. According to the developer of the application, the application should work with smartphones running Android 4.3 or higher as well as the iPhone 4S and higher.

Since the locks are battery powered, it doesn’t matter if the power is out at the hotel. Guests will still be able to access their rooms without requiring a physical card key. Regarding battery life within the door units, the hotel staff will receive alerts when battery power is running low, thus allowing easy replacement.

When asked about the technology upgrade to the Aloft hotels, Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen said “We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel. It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel.” Assuming the pilot program is successful at the two Aloft locations, Starwood management plans to upgrade door locks at all 123 Aloft and W hotels locations by the end of 2015.

Prior to this point, Starwood created a system in which loyalty members would receive a key card prior to checking into the hotel. Basically, the card would be activated once the guest arrived at the hotel and the card could be reused when returning to another Aloft location. Alternatively, hotel chains like Marriot and InterContinental have rolled out a mobile check-in process for loyalty members, but still require guests to interact with someone at a desk prior to checking into their room. 

Interestingly, the owner of the Holiday Inn chain tried out a pilot program that provided self-service kiosks for checking into hotel rooms, but guests ignored the kiosks and went to the front desk instead. According to Holiday Inn management, guests at those hotels wanted to speak to someone at the front desk in order to request specific features for the room. However, it would be relatively simple to program those choices into the kiosk software and offer upgrades for a nominal fee.

When leaving the hotel, it’s likely that guests will simply be able to check out utilizing the same mobile application provided by Starwood. Hypothetically, the app could also allow guests to review all room charges during the stay as well as take advantage of hotel features like room service.

Smart Home

Trulia enables homeseekers to know the neighborhood with a new app feature

Trulia Neighborhoods is taking a closer look at neighborhoods with a new digital experience, Trulia Neighborhoods, that aims to use multimedia to depict the local character of American communities.
Photography

Starting a vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability.
Mobile

Bigger isn’t always better: 5 of the smallest smartphones worth buying

Phones are getting larger and larger, but what options exist for the small-of-hand, or people who just want a phone they can use one-handed? In a world of phablets, some of the smallest smartphones can still pack a punch.
Computing

Saving your favorite YouTube videos for posterity is quick, easy with these tools

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are plenty of great tools you can use, both online and offline. These are our favorites and a step by step guide on how to use them.
Home Theater

Don't wake the baby! How to connect headphones to a TV

Do you need to connect a pair of headphones to your TV? Our handy guide will show you how to hook up your headphones in a variety of ways, whether you're using wired headphones, wireless headphones, or gaming headsets.
Mobile

These are the best Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium cases to keep your phone pristine

The Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium is a beautiful and powerful phone, but with a glass build and a $1,000 price tag, you will want to keep it protected. Here are the best Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium cases to keep your phone pristine.
Product Review

The Nokia 3.1 is disappointing in almost every way

HMD Global is back with a new Nokia phone in the U.S., the Nokia 3.1. It's a frills-free phone with an attractive price tag. But can it compete with other similarly priced budget phones?
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs. Huawei P20 Pro: Two high-end phones clash

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here and it's a big, beautiful beast of a smartphone. But today's market is demanding -- does the Note 9 measure up to other flagships? We pitted it against the Huawei P20 Pro to find out.
Home Theater

Crazybaby’s Air 1S true wireless earbuds won’t make you look like a dork

Audio technology company Crazybaby has launched the Air 1S true wireless earbuds, promising considerable connectivity improvements over previous models while retaining the sleek style and supreme comfort.
Mobile

Samsung rebrands Gear app as ‘Galaxy Wearables,’ it now supports Android 9.0 Pie

Following reports that Samsung Gear owners were experiencing connectivity issues after downloading Android 9.0 Pie, the company released an update to the app. The Samsung Gear app is also now officially known as Galaxy Wearable.
Deals

Smartphone out of juice? Get this Anker power bank for half its normal price

Smartphones are great -- right up until they run out of battery. If you're in need of a little extra juice on the go, you can pick up an Anker PowerCore 1300mAH for almost 50 percent off.
Mobile

Apple may add Apple Pencil support for its 2018 iPhones

Apple's 2018 iPhone range is still a mystery. How many models will launch? What will they be called, and how big will the screens be? Here are all the rumors and everything we know so far.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

Sprint and LG team up on a 5G smartphone set for release in first half of 2019

Sprint and LG are teaming up to bring customers the first 5G smartphone in the U.S. While details on design and specifications have yet to be released, the carrier confirmed the device will be available in the first half of 2019.