Technology’s role in hotel design has arguably never been so relied upon. If you happened to miss CES 2021, fear not as editor Hamish Kilburn and wellbeing expert Ari Peralta – together, an editorial dream team – are here to share the best hotel design tech trends that emerged from the show…
Each year, Las Vegas becomes the centre of the tech universe as CES opens its doors to the latest breakthrough technology products that are taking over and in the process changing modern consumer behaviour. From flying ubers to rollable smartphones, wearable screens to a wearable phone mask – to say that these inventions are far-fetched is an understatement. But if you cut through the noise, you will also discover high-tech solutions for tomorrow’s hospitality landscape.
As millions of people around the world spend more time at home, they yearn for balance and seek an escape from the stresses and anxieties of everyday life. The potential for technology to create more moments of wellbeing, and making it easier to unwind, destress, and find peace, is the driving force behind our article. This year’s event, which took place virtually due to the Covid-19 outbreak, unsurprisingly had a big focus on touchless and clean technologies. To make sense of the best hotel design tech that emerged throughout the show, here are our top five editorial picks.
Pandemic-inspired “CleanTech” is everywhere
A clean, comfortable lifestyle is vital today as consumers navigate the New Normal Way of Life resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic. Straight in to address the elephant in the room, the show made a nod to the seismic shift in attitudes towards hygiene, especially in public spaces, by presenting some interesting solutions for the hospitality industry. Many brands showcased new hygiene products using UV lighting – an area that we explored recently in a roundtable – while there was also an emphasis on personal air filtration spaces.
So far we’ve seen dozens of cleaning gadgets, from antimicrobial backpacks to truly insane UV-light-spewing, air-purifying robots. There are portable UV light cleaners for your car, for your glasses, or for anything else. Components designed to zap germs have been folded into a slew of air purifiers, wireless chargers, and refrigerators, launching a new breed of multi-use Swiss Army gadgets.
Even the gadgets that don’t directly do any cleaning are being designed to be cleaned more quickly. Phone cases, screen protectors, laptops, and touchscreens made from antimicrobial material that encourages swift and thorough sanitising. “Antimicrobial,” “antibacterial,” and “antiviral” are all vying to become the “gluten-free” of consumer gadgets.With the need for cleanliness and hygienic surfaces at the forefront of consumers’ minds, TOTO NEOREST and WASHLET+ showcased cleaning technologies that work synergistically and are especially important in this new normal way of life that consumers are experiencing.
Another technology being heavily used is eWater or electrolysed water. eWater is a well-known cleaning agent, which reduces the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. Electrolysed water is produced by electrolysis of the chloride ions in ordinary tap water. It is completely free of added chemicals and harsh cleaning agents.
Touchless products are here to stay
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we should probably be touching things less often, at least until everyone has been vaccinated. Today, consumers are intensely concerned about infectious disease transmission when they visit hotels, airports, shopping centres, schools, offices, and other facilities. Guests want the security of knowing they can safely use products without the worry of coming into contact with Covid-19.
At this year’s CES, we saw a number of products, from toilets to video doorbells, that no longer require you to touch them in order to use them. While touchless products aren’t new, the pandemic certainly has accelerated its development over the past year. LG’s Instaview refrigerator — the one with a large door you can knock on to see inside — now has a window that’s 23 per cent larger, allowing you to see more of what’s inside. Kohler introduced the Sensate touchless kitchen faucet two years ago, but now the company is bringing the same technology to the bathroom. Arlo’s newest doorbell is touchless, and when it detects a visitor, it will emit a noise and turn on a light to let the person know that they don’t have to press the button on the doorbell itself.
Advanced image processing – going from 4K to Beyond 8K and new transparent TVs
Each year, TVs become narrower and more defined, but in 2021 the demand for a tech-flooded TV system has gone one step further with a concept for Samsung for a transparent TV. For us, we believe this is just the start as we predict – just like Jason Bradbury did when he checked in to a hotel 30 years into the future – that surfaces will soon become personalised for the user.
There are so many use cases for this ‘transparent’ TV technology in hospitality, retail and other environments where business owners are looking to create a truly one-of-a-kind experience. This new wave TV technology combines the uniqueness of a see-through display with the unrivalled form factor and picture quality of micro LED technology. Micro LED technology uses self-lighting pixels that can be turned on and off individually for exact control of image brightness and quality, delivering infinite contrast ratios optimised for high-dynamic-range content.
AI-powered health and wellness
If you were not checked in on your wellness and wellbeing before 2020, chances are you will be now. The latest tech trends suggest more and more products will start to emerge that will enhance sleep, exercise and healthy lifestyles in general as demand for these solutions grows.
This year’s show saw everything from rechargeable smart bottles to ‘stress cancellers’ as well as new sophisticated sleep performance devices. A few years ago we spoke about the Internet of Things (IoT), the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Well, it’s happening now. The IoT is not simply about devices being connected, but it is about the benefits it delivers to end-users, be it consumer or enterprise.
The BioButton from BioIntelliSense is a small piece of technology that works like a sticker to track things like body temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate – some of the key indicators that can show the early signs of Covid-19.
The Moflin AI pet robot uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to learn motions and make cute sounds. It’s really aimed at kids and adults as a companion robot, which may sound a bit weird until you think about the pandemic and how many people are facing isolation in this day and age.
Another featured product that uses AI is the Timekettle . What’s special about them is that they are capable of translating more than 93 foreign languages. So someone with an earbud in their ear could listen to another person speaking in a foreign language and get an instantaneous translation.
Biometric and multi-sensory bathrooms
Last year, we caught wind of the Alexa-activated shower from Kohler. In 2021, the bathroom brand returned with a shower of the future. Within this, the Stillness Bath was introduced – a square tub that combines light, fog and aromatherapy to create a spa-like experience. In addition, and circling back to ‘clean design’, there was a flurry of touchless products, including shower toilets and faucets.
Themis is the new CareOS small, connected mirror that acts as a personal wellness assistant. It offers patented, playful touchless user interaction combines with a unique connected mirror that addresses personal care, beauty, practical life, and the whole spectrum of wellness including ‘mindwellness’, hygiene and preventive healthcare. You can even monitor your biometrics anywhere on your smartphone with the companion application.
TOTO’s Flow Sky toilet can measure excrement. Their new biometric toilet scans your body and key outputs, providing wellness recommendations as a result of the simple routine act of sitting down on the toilet.
Right, that’s enough toilet talk for one article…
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Main image credit: Samsung/TOTO/Kholer/Care OS