Voice-activated rooms could be the future of the hotel industry

Aloft is a frontrunner in the hotel tech game. Pic: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

IN the distant future, you could be verbally instructing your hotel lights to dim, and ultimately, the phrase “at the touch of your fingertips” could prove obsolete.

Starwood’s Aloft Hotels has unveiled voice-activated hotel rooms that allow guests to turn up the air conditioning or dim the lights with simply a verbal command to Siri.

In what’s being called an industry first, the new technology is the result of Aloft’s top-secret “Project: Jetson” experiment, aimed at providing guests a new way to interact with Siri.

The new feature is complemented with an iPad running a customized Aloft app for controlling the in-room guest experience, as well as HomeKit-enabled accessories to control room temperature, lighting and more.

Eric Marlo, Aloft’s global brand manager who has been spearheading the effort, said, “This seemed like an obvious one. How many times have you come out of a hot shower at your hotel and felt super cold? Now you can adjust the AC just by saying, ‘Hey Siri’.”

Elizabeth Segran of Fast Company tested the pilot version of the feature and was suitably impressed by its function.

She writes: “When you pick up the iPad, it takes about two minutes to say a few sentences so that Siri is able to recognize your voice. But once the system is set up, you can say ‘Hey Siri’ from anywhere in the room, and she will respond to your commands.”

The system is also pre-loaded with “moods” so guests can command “review”, “reset” and “revive” to bring about actions such as turning on the TV.

As a bonus, the system also acts as a concierge if guests need recommendations of bars, restaurants and attractions.

The feature has been rolled out at Aloft Boston Seaport and Aloft Santa Clara, but if guest feedback is positive, it could be implemented across Aloft’s worldwide network in the near future.

Aloft has sealed its status as a frontrunner in the hotel tech game, with past efforts like the world’s first emoji-only room service menu, robotic butlers, and the ability to access rooms using your smartphone without having to physically check in.

In a bid to keep up, Hilton Worldwide announced a collaboration with IBM to pilot a smart robot to front their concierge desks and interact with guests.