Quiet floors, a lack of international travelers and it all ends a day early due to pressure from organizers over travel restrictions and the Covid-19 crisis: is this really the same CES that dominated the the world’s attention every January with the greatest tech show on earth? Well, the answer is “no,” but for good and sound reasons for the hospitality tech industry.
Regardless of physical numbers – many visitors and exhibitors have chosen to host or attend virtually – our community’s hardcore “tech ninjas” who avoid travel sanctions and who were been able to make the trip to Las Vegas last week promised each other great things. And, we would firmly say, the event delivered a faithful, somewhat austere reflection of where hotel technology is headed.
Before we get into the physical robotics and telecom devices that hit the bull’s eye this year, to paint a clear picture, let’s start by looking at some of the key moves that have come to the surface throughout the show.
The most obvious trend was the lack of hotel technology. Don’t worry, because that was to be expected. For years, modern travelers have demanded hidden technology in luxury and lifestyle hospitality. More recently, this demand has turned into an insistence on tech-free spaces, amplified somewhat by an increase in wellness trends. Given what was on display at CES 2022, I think it’s safe to say that the hotel of tomorrow will be judged less on the technology it offers and more on the hotel’s ability to support the consumer software and hardware.
As far as buzzwords go, there was one that roared the loudest in Las Vegas in early January. The Metaverse, which in its current state hovers somewhere between impossible and unavoidable, is rapidly turning from Mark Zuckerburg’s dream into reality. For an industry like hotel design and hospitality that has long strived to provide an authentic and unique travel experience, the idea of an interconnected 3D virtual space that allows users to “feel” the real world is terrifying and seems equally unrealistic. However, once upon a time there was Facebook. If the metaverse takes off, which seems to be the case sooner rather than later, it will undoubtedly have an impact on the behaviors of modern travelers.
What stood out and what missed at CES 2022?
The new era of hospitality TV and projector technology – HIT
Every year at CES, the latest TVs are unveiled, which is always greeted with enthusiasm by technology enthusiasts. 2022 delivered on the same expectation, with the likes of LG, Sony, TLC and Panasonic unveiling QD-LED, OLED Evo, micoLED and even miniLED. But, aside from impressive render displays, it was actually a projector that stole the show. With its compact design that looks more like a projector than a portable display, the Samsung Freestyle is a powerful and compact projector, smart speaker and ambient lighting device in one lightweight package that weighs just 830 grams. The product would be ideal for hotel rooms and suites, transforming F&B spaces into sensory experiences or for last-minute outdoor cinemas.
The space hotel – HIT
With the increased awareness of sustainability and materiality, the era of pop-up hotels has been erased somewhat from the history of hospitality. However, when it comes to cutting-edge technology at CES, exhibitors have their sights set on the future. Sierra Space, which showcased a series of giant bouncy houses on the moon, was the most advanced by far this year. It sounds far-fetched (and it is) but the launch of LIFE Habitat got us thinking about bent hotels that could, if consciously designed, provide an extraordinary travel experience that can continually evolve.
The smart door – MISS
We’re all for hotel concepts that challenge conventional approaches to hospitality here at hotel designs. And based on our smart door judgment, we’re not saying we’re not reviewing the hotel contactless – we are! However, the idea of a smart door, for us, is a gimmick too far in an age when hoteliers and designers are striving to take a twin approach to technology. That said, we can’t say that the M-Pwr smart door isn’t a smart evolution of the smart doorbell.
Sci-Fi Baths – HIT
Kohler is never a brand to be disappointed at CES. After the Amazon Echo shower unveiled a few years ago, the bathroom brand that is always ahead of hotel and bathroom technology, arrived at CES 2022 with its answer to the future of wellness in residential and hotel design. Available in a variety of sizes, the Infinity Experience freestanding bathtub comes with LED lighting effects and a relaxing mist inspired by Japanese hot springs. The bath is surrounded by a hinoki wooden base and uses PerfectFill technology which maintains the ideal temperature and water level.
Humanoid robots – HIT and MISS
Robots have long been a contentious topic among hoteliers around the world – Aloft’s butler robot called “Botlr” which appeared in 2014 threatened to suppress human interaction in hospitality and therefore never really landed. Since then, other robots have tried unsuccessfully to take over hotel technology. Engineered Arts challenges the view that robots will never replace face-to-face service. The company has launched a new robot called Ameca, which first made contact with the public at CES 2022 with its surprisingly vivid and emotive facial expressions using no less than 17 motors in its head.
Ameca, with a non-human gray metal and plastic body that is deliberately asexual, was designed in oddly realistic ways, but is considered a “lack” on our part because she cannot yet walk or move, which makes it null and void for today’s hotel landscape (phew).
Room robot vacuum cleaners – HIT
Despite our tasteful dissent from the hotel robot, one android that we believe has a place at least in the boutique hotel environment is the robot vacuum cleaner, which has come a long way since becoming popular in the national level in recent years. The S7 MaxV Ultra comes one step closer. And with 30% faster charging, reliable coverage, a compact docking station and detailed 3D mapping, the technology is becoming increasingly relevant for commercial hotel use in an era where housekeeping is at a minimum. due to social distancing.
Ham Amigami Ham – MISS
We seem to be the only media platform not endorsing Amigami Ham Ham, the cuddly animal robot that “melted hearts” at CES 2022 with its finger nibbling ability (we’re not making this up) . The unusual product uses “bite play” as a method of comfort. If we’re really pushed to give some credence, we’re impressed with the plush’s ability to automatically engage its motor and algorithm (or hamgorithm) so no bite feels the same. We’ll leave you how it could be used in a hotel.
Since you are here…
Over 60,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to set the point in international hotel design, and we do this by delivering relevant reporting and engaging features. To keep up to date with the hottest stories emerging, you can subscribe to the newsletter, which is completely free. As well as receiving a weekly roundup of the top stories, you’ll also get access to our bi-monthly HD edition – staying ahead has never been easier!
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Main image credit: Engineered Arts/Ameca