Panagiotis Antonopoulos pantonop at windtools.gr
Fri Aug 5 15:40:01 BST 2016

Hi Clive/dorene/all,
For one, I shall be excluded unfortunately. I have found no satisfactory way 
of using a mobile with the combination of lack of vision and incompatibility 
between mobiles and hearing aids, as their sound is not clear enough to me. 
So, I wonder what would happen in cases like mine.

-----Αρχικό μήνυμα----- 
From: Clive Lever
Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 4:48 PM
To: 'BCAB Discussion List'


So what happens if someone nicks your Iphone? And how about 'Smartphones for 
the blind', instead of the old skool 'Wireless for the blind', (Wireless in 
the old sense of the word)?

If you have a good accessible smartphone using it to get into your room 
might be preferable to poncing about with those cards, which stop working if 
you put them in the same pocket of your mobile?

Like fire, the wheel and computers, this system could be a good servent and 
a bad master. The software itself has to be accessible of course, presenting 
all its information in a form that can be spoken, with none of this nonsense 
of: "You can open your door when the red icon turns green".

Time alone will tell, not only whether it will include or exclude us, but 
whether it will catch on at all.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Doreen Tyler
Sent: Friday, August 5, 2016 1:17 PM
To: BCAB Discussion List

Hi folks:

Came across this and thought it might spark some interesting disscussion.

Guess my one concern is the A word – accessibility!!!

How technology is changing in hotels; Unlocking doors with phones, robot 
deliveries and more will be the norm in inns of the future

Vanessa Lu
      The Toronto Star Aug. 3, 2016

The last thing weary travellers want to do is to wait in line for their 
hotel room key.

That's what hotel chains believe, and thanks to technology, they have 
already begun to offer entry via smartphone.

In the hotel room of the future, technology will simplify things. There will 
be one less plastic card to lose and technology will anticipate your needs 
by switching on lights or dispatching a robot to deliver extra towels or 

Keyless entry is available at the Aloft Hotel in Vaughan, where people can 
check in using the Starwood app, get a notification when their room is ready 
and be sent their room number - without talking to anyone.

"It's very easy to lose your key, but you never lose your phone," said Matt 
Rattray, general manager of the hotel, next to the Vaughan Mills shopping 
mall. "Guests like to bypass the front desk."

On a recent visit, Rattray found three guests had used the keyless entry 
program by early afternoon, though they must have stayed previously at that 
hotel at least once to bypass the front desk entirely.

And don't think about using it as a way to sneak around for secret trysts, 
because only one guest can use their smartphone at a time. That smartphone 
can also unlock central spaces such as the pool, fitness centre and guest 

Rattray says the Aloft hotel focuses on technology, ensuring a 100 megabits 
per second speed for its Wi-Fi, which is available throughout the hotel - 
along with plenty of outlets where users can charge devices at tables in the 

That reflects a growing desire for the third place - not your home, not your 
office, but another space to work. Call it the Starbucks effect, where 
people want to be with others, even if they don't know them, tapping away in 
the hotel lobby.

The hotel also offers a Plug and Play feature in individual rooms, where 
guests can hook up their devices, whether it's a tablet or laptop to the TV, 
to play their preferred content.

Technology is also used behind the scenes - where a sensor on the door can 
tell if someone is in the room. If a guest adjusts room temperature, it will 
stay the same until someone leaves, then the thermostat reverts to a pre-set 

Paige Francis, vice-president global brand management for Aloft, Element and 
Four Points Sheraton, says hotels are testing how to adapt service with 

"The next kind of innovation is how to personalize the experience," Francis 
said, and everything from lighting, wake-up calls and maybe getting your 
coffee started in the morning may be based on the wake-up time.

"The technology is there. We need to work through how it works in the hotel 
environment," she said. "The future is just around the corner."

The Starwood chain has the Botlr - a robot that can deliver items to guests. 
But it can't knock, so it's programmed to call a room on arrival so the 
guest can retrieve their item.

Similarly, the Hilton chain introduced Connie, a Watson-enabled robot 
concierge at its McLean, Va., hotel this spring. Named after Hilton 
Worldwide's founder Conrad, the robot, developed by IBM, can tell guests 
what to visit, where to dine and how to find anything at the property. The 
idea behind the robot is to get rid of customer pain points such as waiting 
in line to ask an employee a question, to help the hotel operate more 
efficiently and to surprise customers.

"When I think back to Connie, in a lot of ways, it checks all of those boxes 
for us," said Jim Holthouser, executive vice-president for global brands at 

"If you can off-load the 10 most frequently asked questions to a front desk 
person, you're freeing that person up to check people in faster, anticipate 
guest needs and react to requests faster."

Connie, about 60 centimetres tall, can move its arms and legs. When a guest 
asks for directions, for instance, it can move itself to literally point in 
the right direction. Its eyes light up in different colours to express 
understanding, confusion and other emotions.

Technology is also helping guests make choices long before they arrive.

All Hilton brand hotels have digitized maps of their facilities so guests 
can choose their rooms in advance, whether it's close to the elevator or on 
a higher floor. Or they can choose to be next door to friends and family who 
also staying at the same location - or not - Holthouser added.

Through an app, guests can request the champagne or pop that is waiting for 
them in their rooms. With a partnership with Uber, guests can use app to 
hail a ride, as well as find real-time listings of popular restaurants or 
entertainment attractions based on Uber drop-offs.

Eventually, the company expects the smartphone app will be able to act as a 
remote control for all its TVs, and will change the settings on the room's 

Beyond using technology, hotels are looking at other ways to meet needs.

"Guests are no longer tethered in that room with that blue cord that you 
have to use to get high-speed internet. That really changes the behaviour," 
said Matthew Carroll, Marriott's vice-president of global brand management, 
adding on average their customers travel with three different devices. "But 
they want to be untethered in the room."

The Marriott chain took a social media beating earlier this year when 
travellers complained about a decision to remove traditional desks as they 
updated some rooms.

"There are some areas where we might have pushed things too far, I think the 
desk is one of those," Carroll said.

"Where we didn't provide enough of that functionality - to work in the 
room," he said, "we have made changes to the hotels that are going to roll 
out the new room moving forward as well as looking back at the hotels we 
have renovated - and looking to put more functional workspaces back in."

It won't be the big old wooden desk that takes up one side of a room, but 
could be a smaller workstation or even a table near sitting area, to give 
travellers multiple places where they can work with a laptop or tablet.

That means some rooms might also have a chaise lounge, with a small work 

"We understand and recognize, our guests do work in the room - and we need 
to provide that functional workspace, with great seating and lighting, all 
those key elements," Carroll said, but these days, people might be checking 
emails while watching TV.

Holthouser says the Hilton hotel chain hasn't eliminated desks because 
people need a place to work.

At the new Tru chain, a segment below the Hampton Inn, with smaller rooms, 
it introduced a combination desk and chair. "Our solution is not meant to 
eliminate desks. I think they will evolve," he said.

But one of the biggest challenges for hotels, especially in urban downtown 
locations with high real estate prices, is to make smaller rooms more 

Extra space is left to create for social spots in public as more guests want 
to gather in small groups, or even hang out by themselves, but surrounded by 

As long as there's a Wi-Fi connection, people can be freed from that blue 

Hotel Tech

Robot concierge

Hotels are using robots to do some repetitive tasks, such as fetching extra 
towels or pillows. The Hilton chain has Connie, while at Starwood, there's 
the Botlr, which executives say frees up staff to help guest with other more 
important tasks.

Mirror, mirror, where's my news?

Some hotels are testing ways to deliver information such as weather and news 
headlines on a mirror in the guest's room.

Light my way

When guests are staying in an unfamiliar setting, it can be easy to trip on 
the way to the bathroom at night or stub a toe on a dresser. Sensors under 
the carpet could trigger lights to come on if someone is up.

Plug and play

With travellers arriving with multiple devices, often loaded with favourite 
shows or movies, hotels are making sure they can be played on the room's TV. 
Marriott has partnered with Netflix so users can hook up their accounts.

City highlights

Business travellers will tell you that every hotel room looks the same and a 
club sandwich is always on the room-service menu. Hotels are trying to 
differentiate the rooms, adding little features to reflect their cities. 
Food and beverage menus tend to showcase the best in local, as well.

Instant chat

Marriott says its check-in and checkout service on its app is popular, and 
it lets guests use chat feature to ask specific questions. Quick feedback

Hotels.com will ask guests to send real-time reviews upon check-in - click 
on a smiley face or frowny face to a few simple questions including the room 
and location, and problems can be promptly fixed.

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