Introducing the key-free hotel

By Michael Flux, November 4 2010
Introducing the key-free hotel

The Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, is currently experimenting with keyless hotel entry. With guests able to download all the necessary information to their mobile phones, the days of needing to keep hotel keys with you may soon be over.

The new technology uses near field communication (NFC), a wireless communication system that's designed for close-range exchange of data, somewhat similar to Bluetooth. By installing data on your phone, it can check in and out of the hotel and unlock your door.

The mobile key is designed so customers need never queue up at reception. On the first day of their stay, customers a sent a text message including a link, which they can click to check in. Once this is confirmed, the room key is sent to the phone.

Room doors are opened simply by holding the phone near the NFC scanner, located where the keyhole once was. At the end of the stay, there's a check-out point near the front desk of the hotel, where the phone can be scanned again. After check-out, the room key is automatically deleted. 

The creator of the mobile key, ASSA ABLOY, believes the technology will some day be used not just at hotels, but on office and home doors as well.

While NFC isn't currently available on most phones, many companies are rolling out the technology. It's available now on a number of Nokia and Samsung devices, as well as mobiles from LG (the 600V contactless), Motorola (the L7) and Sagem (the Cosyphone). The iPhone 5 will also include the feature.

Without many phones using NFC technology, the keyless hotel won't be practical for a while. But with phone capabilities constantly developing, they could soon be a matter-of-course.

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