Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and hotel operations platform ALICE today announced a new hotel management solution that uses smartwatches to improve staff communications, speed responsiveness to guests, and enhance customer service. With connected, LTE-capable smartwatches easily accessible on their wrist, hotel employees in key operations – such as housekeeping, maintenance, and bellman service – can manage customer requests and resolve incidents more quickly and efficiently across departments.
The wearable solution was created by Samsung SDS, which is Samsung’s software and solutions organization. The solution combines the ALICE hotel platform and a Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch to help hospitality workers—who are often mobile—enhance productivity and guest service through ‘hands-free’ connectivity. Luxury hotel company Viceroy Hotel Group brought together ALICE and Samsung, and will be first to implement the digital solution to help Viceroy’s employees, who are constantly on the move.
With this solution, when a guest request or urgent need arises (i.e. towel delivery, broken toilet, luggage pickup), the department’s employees receive silent vibration alerts via the smartwatch on their wrist. The appropriate employee can respond to and accept the task with a tap of the smartwatch, informing staff that someone is attending to the guest. Managers can efficiently track tasks in real-time until service is completed.
The joint solution will debut at the HITEC 2018 conference in Houston, Texas, with demonstrations at the Samsung booth (#1929) and the ALICE booth (#2319) from June 18-21.
“This smartwatch solution from Samsung and ALICE provides a compelling tool for hotels, whose employees are often mobile, and require durable, hands-free operation for completing day-to-day tasks,” said Eric McCarty, Vice President, B2B Mobile Product Marketing, Samsung Electronics America. “With capabilities such as Samsung Knox built in, hotels not only have a wearable that keeps employees connected, but can be securely managed to meet specific business needs.
Transforming Hotel Communications
Samsung and ALICE’s hands-free solution is ideal for hotel staff who need to handle objects and complete tasks with both hands, while keeping eyes focused on nearby guests. This includes maintenance workers on a two-handed repair job, room service carrying trays and housekeeping handling cleaning devices and who do not have instant access to phones. This also eliminates risks of dropping devices on the job, silences disruptive radio communications, and does away with hotel ‘corkboard’ check-ins.
“Samsung and ALICE are not just delivering a watch as an access point into the hotel’s infrastructure,” said Alex Shashou, President of ALICE. “We are providing three main benefits to hotels, including returning time to the staff so they have more time to execute better service. We are giving the staff back their hands, so there is one less thing to carry or break. And with a hands-free wearable as their main communications tool, we are restoring eye contact to hospitality – enabling the smile between guest and hotelier that has so long meant hospitality.”
In addition, the solution helps personnel across the hotel improve responsiveness, a key component of service in the industry, where most requests are interruption-driven and ongoing preventative tasks are superseded by reactive customer requests. Completing even mundane tasks –from fixing a clogged toilet to providing special VIP service—must be attended to in a responsive, quick matter to ensure success.
Accelerating Service at Viceroy
Viceroy Hotel Group, a modern luxury hotel brand with hotels and resorts around the world, will be first in the hotel industry to test the Samsung-ALICE wearable solution. The hotel is deploying the Samsung-ALICE smartwatch solution at their Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills property to provide staff with an easy-to-use device that is supportive of mobile workflows and contributes to customer satisfaction. With plans to roll out the wearable solution across their portfolio of hotels, Viceroy plans to shave minutes off each task-based request as a result of the smartwatch approach, increasing efficiencies. Minutes make all the difference in service-based environments, which must remain sensitive to a guest’s time.
“In the true spirit of connection, it’s been exhilarating to bring together two leaders in their respective industries to help discover new ways to create game-changing solutions that will advance the hotel industry,” said Darren Clark, Vice President of Technology at Viceroy Hotel Group. “We are excited to be an intrinsic part of the creative process by finding ways to make the smartwatch an integral, productive part of our strategy, and provide our team with seamless, real-time communications with guests.”
The solution will be available this summer. For more information on the ALICE platform, visit here.
Beeline and Huawei Conduct the First 5G Holographic Call in Russia
VimpelCom (Beeline brand) and Huawei held a demonstration showcasing the latest fifth generation (5G) mobile connection technologies. The Moscow Museum exhibition hall was used as the demonstration zone and the dialogue between the speakers was conducted using a hologram – a digitized image transmitted through Mixed Reality glasses (MR). Holographic communication technology requires high bandwidth and low latency, which will only be made possible by the mass deployment of 5G networks.
During the demonstration, the companies used frequencies between 26,600–27,200 MHz that had been temporarily allocated to Beeline. This spectrum range is within the 3GPP standardized band n258.
A commercially available Huawei 5G base station – the gNodeB – was used to make the holographic call. The base station consists of an active antenna array (HAAU 5213) and a new generation of BBU5900 digital processing module with a 5G board. The radio interface uses TDD mode in the 100 MHz frequency band and MIMO 64×64 technology. One of the first commercially available 5G CPE devices based on the Huawei Balong5G01 chipset is selected as the subscriber terminal, which includes an RF module (ODU) and 5G/WiFi router (IDU).
Beeline and Huawei also demonstrated a practical 5G virtual reality (VR) use case using an online broadcast from a 360-degree camera housed in a VR helmet. The technology can potentially be used to enhance user experience in terms of remote travel. For example, Beeline customers can visit an operator’s shop, acquire a tariff plan, or buy a smartphone, while physically located in the comfort of their own home.
Vasyl Latsanych, CEO of PJSC VimpelCom, said, “The rapid development of modern technologies sets a precedence for operators to provide subscribers with high-quality mobile communications at high speeds. That’s why Beeline is already preparing its network infrastructure and is conducting research on how to make a rational transition to 5G technologies. We simply wish to offer our subscribers an understanding of how such technologies can become an integral part of their daily lives, and how they can simplify and improve their user experience. That is why it is growing increasingly important for Beeline to test real business use cases and explore the potential client capabilities of fifth-generation mobile technologies.”
Aiden Wu, CEO of Huawei in Russia, said, “This May 2018, Beeline and Huawei signed an agreement to pursue the joint development of 5G in Russia. Our cooperation has been extremely productive, which today’s demonstration has quite clearly shown. We will continue working together to bring the implementation of a new communication standard closer to becoming a worldwide phenomenon and speed up the process of creating new technologies and services based on this standard.”
Samsung AKG N700NC Wireless Headphones Now Available in the US
Following the launch of a new lineup of first-class wireless AKG headphones last month, Samsung Electronics America today announced the new AKG N700NC Wireless Headphones are now available for purchase just in time for the holiday season.
Combining the best in design with AKG’s award-winning sound technology, the AKG N700NC Wireless are the ideal over-ear headphones for music lovers who want best-in-class audio.
With adaptive noise cancelling, users can control how much surrounding noise they want to let in – so they can immerse themselves in the music or keep an ear open to the world around them – all with the push of a button.
World-class audio technology eliminates echoes, striking the perfect balance between noise cancellation and ambient awareness and resulting in crystal clear voice calls. And with battery life that lasts up to 20 hours, users can listen to music throughout the day without having to worry about charging.
The Inside Story of Hilton’s New High-Tech Hotel Rooms – And What It Will Mean For Travelers
Imagine being able to set your favorite TV channels, optimal room temperature and turn the lights off from the comfort of your hotel room bed, all on your own mobile device. It’s not a pipe dream: Welcome to Hilton’s Connected Room.
Through the award-winning Hilton Honors app, guests can use their mobile device as the in-room remote to control their television programming, lighting, and temperature controls –personalizing their preferences just as they do at home.
Josh Weiss, Vice President of Brand and Guest Technology at Hilton, explains how and why Connected Room came to life and where it’s going next:
Q: What inspired the Connected Room concept?
Global travel is growing, and travelers increasingly expect an experience as good as, and ideally better than, what they are accustomed to at home. Hospitality companies have an exciting challenge to find new ways to offer guests the control, connectivity and personalization they increasingly want when they’re on the road. Hilton has answered the call with our Connected Room platform, which is rooted in the unique needs of each guest. Guests in a Connected Room can:
- Click on “favorites” – and their preferred viewing channels and streaming apps will appear first in the Hilton Honors app.
- Set their preferred temperature, so when they return to their room they’re not too cold or hot.
- Access their favorite streaming media brands from their in-room TV to continue watching the show or movie they were streaming before their trip, for example. Through our industry-first relationship with SHOWTIME, guests don’t need any credentials to stream hundreds of hours of shows and movies.
Q: Who came up with the Connected Room concept?
Connected Room was created by Hilton’s IT and Digital team to address a wide range of opportunities. These include delivering an outstanding guest experience, providing operational efficiencies to hotel owners and operators, and enabling better troubleshooting and support, including pushing software updates through the platform to create new experiences and offer new features.
Q: Where can I find a property with Connected Room technology?
We have deployed the technology in nearly 500 rooms to date across four hotels near Memphis, and we will soon expand to thousands of additional rooms across five more brands, in multiple locations.
While some of the features are immediately available, we’re taking a dynamic approach to identify, create, and deliver many others in the future, based on what’s most important to our guests. The platform was designed to evolve throughout its rollout and will ultimately scale to Hilton’s global operation across more than 100 countries and 14 current brands.
Q: Hilton recently announced that it will cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030 through its Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy. Does Connected Room have an environmental benefit?
Absolutely. For example, when guests aren’t physically in their booked rooms – typically around 70% of the time – hotels can power down devices such as the television, HVAC, and lights, dramatically reducing energy consumption.
We apply AI and machine learning to optimize energy efficiency and guest comfort; we do not view these as a tradeoff. We believe that through Connected Room, we can open up new, advanced ways of tracking and reducing energy consumption around the world, and continue to be a leader in sustainability.
Q: Do I need the Hilton Honors app to access Connected Room functions and features?
The Hilton Honors app is the only way to access Connected Room controls and other technology conveniences from your mobile device. For example, Hilton Honors members are already able to use the app to check in digitally before arrival, select their room from a digital map, and open their hotel room’s door with their mobile phone thanks to the app’s Digital Key function. In addition, Hilton Honors members can also enjoy instant benefits, including an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, and free standard Wi-Fi.
However, the app isn’t mandatory to enjoy Connected Room TV features – Hilton will continue to enhance the television remote and TV user experience and build room controls into the TV so all guests can access all features of Connected Room.
Q: How does Connected Room technology influence future innovations?
Hilton began beta testing Connected Room in 2017 and it will evolve throughout its rollout. Because it is a platform, much like with an Apple or Android mobile device, we can push new features, apps, and functionality to existing devices over time without the need to deploy additional hardware. For guests, this means that in the longer term they’ll be able to do things such as upload their photos and art to display digitally in the room, or connect to new devices. They’ll also be able to enjoy new features much faster than we could roll out these capabilities today. They may also be able to use voice commands to control their room’s features or to access their content.
There’s a benefit to Hilton franchise owners too, who sometimes face challenges implementing new technology due to high costs and operational challenges. Connected Room will make it easier for them to keep pace with the rapid change in technology and easily integrate new innovations seamlessly into the guest experience.
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