Room makeover: tech that’s down the pike

A sneak preview of new age gadgets and services to come that were on display at Demo Fall 2010 and TechCrunch Disrupt, was reported on by the Financial Times. Both shows are where aspiring start-ups looking to be the next Facebook or Google display their wares and moxie (considering how much of a reach those goals usually are). More than a couple of them could well be on Guestroom 2012 if they get to the mass marketing stage.

A leading contender is Lark Up,the brainchild of very brainy Julia Hu, an MIT grad
student who found herself waking far too soon on most mornings as her boyfriend almost always attempted to wake up before she did but slept through his alarm and numerous reminders on most days. The device sells for a mere $99 and promises to wake up its clients "silently" while letting others in the room or the same bed sleep on while also assuring the woken up that it as close to a "natural" wake up as possible. The website for the gadget says it was developed by a Harvard sleep expert and built by MIT engineers and tested by/on couples and is comprised of a "wristband (that) is like pajamas for your wrist: soft, slim, comfortable, and hassle free" which is hooked up via a bluetooth wireless connection to an iphone or ipod that doubles as an alarm clock. At the appointed hour the wristband nudges the sleeper awake through vibrations. Sure beats a loud wake-up call to the hotel phone or the (usually) impossible to work alarm-clocks on the night-stand. Solo-travelers too are likely to welcome its soothing wake-up medium. 

The FT also writes  of "another start-up entering a crowded market already dominated by bigger players is Veebeam.
Its TV set-top box shown at Demo allows users to beam their PC or
laptop’s desktop and files to a TV screen in 1080p, the best available
high-definition quality. Also priced at $99, the device "uses a technology called Wireless USB to do this. A USBstick with a
transmitter plugs into the laptop and video files are then stream­ed
through the air to the set-top box, which can be connected to the TV
with an HDMI cable." As the FT report notes, there are many others who do what the Veebeam professes to do but this is the first to "use Wireless USB and is thereby
mounting a direct challenge to the similar WiDi proprietary technology
of Intel." For hotels that do not want to deal with wiring Veebeam appears to offer a distinctly better solution.

A service with potential application for the hospitality industry on display at the TechCrunch show was "a hybrid social service built around US car licence plates."  Clients register their car license plates with the service and say how they may
want to be contacted either via e-mail and/or a phone call. Any one looking at those plates either physically or via a scanning device notes the plate number and sends a (promotional) message to the service. The prospect of competitors scanning plates at rival hotels and suggesting to customers that they may have a better option next door could result in some interesting outcomes for the hotel industry.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.