Your iPhone or Android smartphone will soon double as your room key at selected Starwood hotels in Silicon Valley and New York.
The trial, which uses Starwood's smartphone app and the low-power Bluetooth 4 wireless standard, will begin at Starwood's chic urban Aloft hotels in Cupertino and Harlem by March.
If the pilot program is successful Starwood plans to roll out the technology to all of its Aloft and luxury W Hotel properties by the end of next year.
Guests will be able to skip the check-in queue at the front desk by checking in on the smartphone app before they reach the hotel.
The app receives a digital token which acts as a 'virtual key' to the room. On arrival at the hotel you head straight for your room and tap your smartphone to the lock (you can also use an 'unlock' gesture which mimics twisting a key).
"We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel," says Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen. "It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel."
Starwood reckons it's covered for any low-tech wrinkles which may cruel the advanced system. Guests can get a regular key if their smartphone is lost or its battery runs out.
Likewise, the battery-powered Bluetooth locks run independent of the hotel's IT system so they won't be affected in the event of a computer crash, and hotel staff receive an automatic alert whenever the battery in any lock needs replacing.
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