Picture this: after a long and exhaustive flight, you finally arrive at a hotel. But instead of waiting on the lines clogging the front desk to pick up a key, simply bypass the receptionist and head straight to your room safely knowing that an iPhone in your pocket doubles as the room key.
It’s precisely the kind of fantasy that Hilton has dreamed up and now working to make a reality across the vast majority of their hotels by 2016.
This is according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday. That’s right, beginning 2015 some Hilton hotels will allow for door unlocking with a smartphone, with the global roll-out expected to complete by the end of 2016…
Craig Karmin, writing for WSJ:
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is placing a $550 million bet that hotel guests increasingly will use smartphones to choose rooms, check in and even unlock doors.
The company plans to announce this week new technology intended for its 4,200 properties world-wide. Targeting younger travelers, Hilton is aiming to leapfrog competitors that already have rolled out new services like turning mobile phones into room keys.
Currently, Hilton’s free iPhone app (pictured top of post) supports checking-in electronically. By the end of this summer, customers will be able to use a forthcoming app update to directly select their own rooms at six brands, from the midscale Hilton Garden Inn to the luxury Waldorf Astoria.
And beginning 2015, travelers will be permitted to use iPhones and other smartphones to unlock the doors to their rooms, rolling out to most of Hilton’s hotels globally by the end of 2016.
With the proposed system, you’d no longer need the room key because your iPhone would receive a secure key code used to unlock the door wirelessly.
This is great news for the adoption of the iPhone as a physical door key replacement. Four years ago, the company had over 530 Hilton-branded hotels across the world in 78 countries across six continents. All told, the group operates or franchises a whopping 650,000 rooms worldwide.
Competition in this space is fierce and with Hilton hotels adopting digital door locks that work with a smartphone app, rival companies will be compelled to follow suit and therefore help mainstream this cool technology.
Matter of fact, Starwood is now testing virtual room keys at two of its Aloft brand hotels, with plans to offer the feature at its 150 Aloft and W hotels by the end of 2015.
And 967 Marriott hotels already offer check-in and check-out features via a mobile app, with more than 4,000 hotels globally set to offer similar services by year-end.
Consumers looking to install wireless door locks in their homes currently have several options available, such as Kwikset’s Kēvo. Pictured above, the Kēvo is a UniKey-powered wireless deadbolt door lock that connects to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad through wireless Bluetooth Smart technology.
Earlier this year, a company called Openways announced an iPhone-controlled Okidokeys. It works over Bluetooth while supporting RFID tags to unlock the door in case you misplaced your iPhone or the battery died on you.
Other well-known names are joining the iPhone-controlled door lock market, too, including accessory maker Jawbone which announced the $199 “August” door lock designed by industrial designer Yves Behar and crafted of anodized aluminum, shipping by year-end.