Smart ho­tel rooms are poised to change travel

Room-ser­vice ro­bots? Phone-charg­ing fur­ni­ture? Wel­come to the smart rooms of to­mor­row

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - BY RICHARD MEL­LOR

Hu­manoid ro­bots have long been an em­blem of our Blade Run­ner-es­que fu­ture, and the age of machines seems poised to hap­pen in ho­tels. The Yo­tel New York’s new­est em­ployee – the hy­per­en­er­getic bell­boy Yobot – fol­lows on the elec­tronic heels of the tire­less work­ers at Ja­pan’s (al­most) en­tirely robot-staffed Henn-na Ho­tel. But per­haps most ex­cit­ing is Botlr, who joined the staff at Aloft Ho­tels in 2014. This robotic but­ler can – if sum­moned via an app – ap­pear at your door with more tow­els, an iron, etc. Bet­ter still, he’ll also do a dance each time.

AU­TO­MATIC COF­FEE MA­CHINE

One does hate to make one’s own cof­fee, doesn’t one? In keep­ing with a gen­eral trend of ho­tel rooms try­ing to pre­dict your ev­ery move, Star­wood Ho­tels & Re­sorts’ cof­fee machines will start brew­ing your

morn­ing cup au­to­mat­i­cally, so it’s ready when you are.

AU­TO­MATIC BATH­ROOM LIGHTS

If you’re the sort who needs to visit the bath­room in the small hours, Aloft Ho­tels will recog­nise that re­quire­ment and il­lu­mi­nate a nightlight the mo­ment you set down a foot. This en­ables a safe course to the bath­room should na­ture call – rather than hav­ing to en­dure a frus­trat­ing fum­ble for those bed­side lights. It’s all done us­ing teeny RFID (ra­dio fre­quency ID) tech­nol­ogy stick­ers that are lodged un­der the car­pet.

TOUCHSCREEN MIR­RORS Rather than make you look beau­ti­ful all the time (that re­ally would be good), smart mir­rors are glass screens that, as well as re­flect­ing your im­age, pro­vide all sorts of data at the same time. Weather fore­casts? Sim­ple. Email check? Here you are. SMART­PHONE-CHARG­ING FUR­NI­TURE Another whizzy in­no­va­tion is in­duc­tive charg­ing. That’s tech-speak for fur­ni­ture – desks, bed­side ta­bles, cup­boards – with built-in charg­ing pads that au­to­mat­i­cally power smart­phones as soon as you place said de­vice on top. Why? Be­cause wires are messy and phone charg­ers rank among ho­tel guests’ most left-be­hind items.

MELA­TONIN LIGHTS The ‘Stay Well’ ho­tel rooms at some Mar­riott ho­tels utilise cir­ca­dian light­ing sys­tems that mimic nat­u­ral light, thereby reg­u­lat­ing mela­tonin pro­duc­tion, a ben­e­fit in com­bat­ing jet­lag. Also fight­ing this good fight are light­ther­apy mir­rors, con­tain­ing but­tons that can in­crease or sup­press guests’ en­ergy and mela­tonin lev­els, re­sult­ing in more en­ergy and bet­ter sleep. The rooms also of­fer a chlo­rine-re­duc­ing shower fil­ter.

Left: You rang? Botlr de­liv­ers items to guests. Above: Smart mir­rors fea­ture data touch­screens

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