BY TED HORNER IN LAS VEGAS
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was my third visit and I always enjoy seeing what the latest trends in consumer technology are. It is my belief that predicting where guestroom technology is headed requires an understanding where consumers are headed and CES is the perfect vehicle to achieve this objective .
Consider these facts:
-The Show is in its 44th year;
-There were 3,100 exhibitors showing over 20,000 new products;
-The show covered 1.861 million square feet of exhibit space and used three primary venues: The Las Vegas Convention Centre (LVCC), Venetian Hotel and Las Vegas Hotel .To put this in context this is the equivalent 31 football fields; and
-More than 153,000 attendees showed up, of which over 34,000 (22%) were international, and 17,000 press.
Among the fresh offerings revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are a host of televisions featuring new screen technologies and resolutions, skinny computers, net-savvy cameras and devices that can be controlled with your voice or a wave. While they may sound like innovations from a far distant future, manufacturers promise these new creations will arrive in months, not years.
GET SET FOR NEW TVs
After years of promises, big-screen OLED televisions are finally due to arrive in later this year. Both LG and Samsung unveiled 55-inch screens using organic light-emitting diodes at CES.
LG’s OLED television has a slender profile of just 4mm and a weight of 7.5kg. OLED televisions deliver brighter colours and greater contrast, as the technology does not require back-lighting; a fact that also makes it more energy-efficient.
In another trend, with common TV sizes increasing up to 213cm (84 inches), TV-makers will this year deliver so-called ultra-definition resolutions offering 2000 by 4000 pixels.
ULTRABOOKS OF THE FUTURE
Laptops may have shrunk significantly in 2011, but they’re losing even more weight this year. Samsung showed a prototype of its new Series 9 Notebook with a profile of just 1.4cm, while Acer revealed the Aspire A5, with a 1.5cm thickness.
Intel PC also showed off future enhancements for the slender laptops, including a credit card reader for fast and safe online purchases and voice recognition, developed in conjunction with Nuance.
Blame Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, if you will, but many upcoming products will respond to your gestures or your voice this year. Television remote controls from Sony, LG and Samsung will all add voice-recognition features, allowing you to issue voice commands.
LG and Samsung will also add built-in cameras to some TV screens and deliver camera-equipped set-top boxes that will recognise your gestures. Users will be able to wave and pinch in mid-air to control all aspects of the TV without the need for a remote.
According to the latest research, tablet computers powered by Google’s Android software are increasing their global market share, but Apple’s iPad still dominates the category.
Strategy Analytics said Android tablets increased their share of the market to 39 per cent in the fourth quarter of the year from 29 per cent a year earlier.
The iPad accounted for 58 per cent of the tablet market in the quarter, down from 68 per cent a year earlier, the Boston-based company said.
Strategy Analytics director Peter King said global tablet shipments hit a record 26.8 million units in the fourth quarter, up 150 per cent from the same period a year ago.
Apple sold 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter while there were 10.5 million Android tablets shipped.
Global tablet shipments hit 66.9 million units last year, up 260 per cent from 18.6 million in 2010, according to Strategy Analytics.
Consumers are increasingly buying tablets in preference to Netbooks and even entry-level notebooks or desktops, but what does this mean for Hoteliers?
With many guests arriving at your hotel with tablets, Wi-Fi systems are suffering from a lack of available bandwidth as guests wish to download their own content. The result of this is that many guests are complaining about poor download experience and are using sites such as TripAdvisor to express their negative opinions.
With the increasing demand for more bandwidth and the subsequent costs to provide this it is in my opinion going to be difficult for hotels to agree to offer anything other than a limited free Wi-Fi mainly for emails.
As Wi-Fi becomes the dominant platform for guests to access their applications on their tablets what does the future hold for the historic requirement for multiple Cat 6 cabling to each room? Is providing a cable for fixed internet access still relevant?
Also as many guests are bringing their own content on their iPad or other tablets and are happy to watch it on that screen does that mean less watching of traditional TV? Also do hotels need to install expensive IPTV systems at all? I believe with are going to witness a paradigm shift in guest technology over the next 12 months as a result of the increasing use of tablets as the principle device to access content on the road.
I recently came across this statement which I think sums up the current situation. It was: “Customers will arrive at your hotel and will want what they want when they want it and the key for hotels is provide them with the infrastructure and the bandwidth to achieve this.”
If this is indeed what guests want, then how can Hoteliers monetise the investment they make in new wireless access points, increased bandwidth and so on? The answer I believe is to offer tiered bandwidth where guests are offered a range or fees directly related to the amount of bandwidth they require. In other words the bigger the pipe a guest wants the more they should pay?
In summary, the iPad and other tablets have changed the way customers are using technology on the road and while it creates a great challenge for hotels it is now up to the industry to embrace this device so guests can have the same download experience they have at home.