You don’t always need an augmented reality real time text translator to impress people with what proper software can do. Sometimes it’s enough to implement old technology with new technology in a way that makes you think we’re living in 2020. Intelity’s ICE (Interactive Customer Experience) is such a software solution, and it can now be used from an iPad.
ICE is basically a software suite for hotels that let people control their hotel room as well as do other things using an iPad. The Plaza in New York already uses the system, and it really shows you what home (or hotel) automation can do. With an iPad (that the hotel lends you) you can control heating systems, air conditioning and lighting. You can make restaurant reservations, order room service, browse city guides, and even order airline tickets which are printed by the hotel and brought to your room. If you’re booking several rooms for a party of several people (for events, conferences, etc) you can also get a customized app for those guests which can include itineraries etc.
Since it’s an iPad an not a proprietary remote control device, it will also be able to do other things. I wouldn’t be surprised if Angry Birds is preloaded, as it certainly is everywhere else at this point (including the toy store). Using an iPad also eliminates the need for any proprietary control devices, which certainly can cost way more than $500 and don’t offer half the functionality. Using an iPad also means there’s room for a lot more information that you wouldn’t fit on a wall mounted control panel, which eliminates the need for “user manuals” for your room. It also eliminates the middle man when you order something, so response times should be faster.
The Luxist article also has a quote from the general manager of The Plaza which is interesting in regards to the whole “tablet war” that is going on: “We chose the iPad because it is a great piece of equipment that is here to stay and won’t disappear tomorrow, it brings another five star element to the hotel.” While many consumers appreciate the wide range of tablets available with Android, companies that use the iPad in ways like this might not be so pleased with the “fractured” eco system. With Apple, you have one company that does both software and hardware- they know what they’re doing, and they’re not going anywhere. They have a long history of working with the business world in such ways, and that offers security to those companies that use their products. That is why museums, schools, and now apparently hotels are looking to Apple, despite the massive success that other platforms have. It isn’t game changing for either platform and it doesn’t mean anything for the average consumer, it’s just is what it is.
Hopefully more hotels will implement this system as well. For now the app is tailored for each hotel, but according to iPad Today (where I just heard of this system for the first time on their live broadcast) a universal system is being developed that can potentially let you store your own preferences and data on your iPad and then have the hotel room optimize itself for your living style when you arrive. The possibilities are endless with such a system and it really isn’t a very complicated system, it’s just a very clever use of existing home automation capabilities.