Technology That Will Take Over in 2016

This year’s International Consumer Electronics Show had some big reveals in terms of what’s on the technology horizon, including the latest on droids and cars. But most importantly, it showcased numerous products that could mean big things for the hospitality industry. From gadgets like a smart fridge to smart showers, here are five pieces of new technology to which the hospitality industry should pay attention.

Styler: What if you could offer guests in-house dry cleaning that takes only 20 minutes? That’s what Styler promises, and this could make a huge difference in the overall experience of a busy executive guest. Made by LG, this one-of-a-kind asset was made for hotels and airports, and retails for $2,000. The device, which was introduced during New York Fashion Week last year and showcased at this year’s CES, features a system in which each piece of clothing is placed on moving hangers that shake back and forth while heat is pumped in. A free smartphone app is also available to users and adds special cycles tailored to specific types of clothing.

Somabar: As CBC News put it, the Keurig of cocktails has arrived. Coming in the second quarter of 2016, the Somabar machine has six pods that hold a variety of liquors and mixers, which can be used to create 300 programmed cocktails. The number of drinks jumps even higher if you count other people’s creations, which are available on the Somabar app. This product—dubbed a robotic bartender—will retail at $449, and can give hotel guests a convenient in-room amenity or add an extra thrill at an already busy bar or lounge.

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Hydrao Smart Shower: The Hydrao Smart Shower is the perfect gadget for environmentally conscious hotels. Developed by French firm Start & Blue, Hydrao has built-in LED lights that change colors as more water is used. For example, the device will change colors after you’ve used five gallons, seven gallons, and 10 gallons. How does the Hydrao work? This smart showerhead, which fits standard showerheads, uses Bluetooth to connect to an iPhone or iPad app. Eco-conscious hotels might consider installing these in rooms along with devices to measure water use while educating customers on water conservation.

Virtual Reality: VR was the darling of this year’s CES, with a number of major media publications like CNET predicting that 2016 will be the year of virtual reality. Why? Major technology players like Oculus, HTC, and Sony announced the release dates for their long-awaited VR headsets and hardware. These products are expected to cause tremendous growth in the VR industry over the next four years.

What should hoteliers know about this new technology? VR immerses viewers in a location or event, making them feel as if they are actually there. This type of immersion can be incredibly persuasive. Some hotel groups, including Marriott International, have realized this and created VR experiences for guests of both near and far-off destinations. Currently, Marriott is piloting a program at one of its New York City locations where guests can order a VR headset to their rooms.

Improved television experiences and displays: As usual, the latest TV technology was showcased at CES 2016, including a TV you can roll up like a poster. OLED technology, led by LG, allows for a thin screen that can bend, thanks to its panel-on-glass design, measuring at only one-tenth of an inch in thickness. Other new and improved TVs included Samsung’s modular display made up of several smaller displays, and Sony’s LSPX-P1 portable wireless short-throw projector, which is powered by batteries. These could all offer hotels a range of options for guests to enjoy during their stay and rave about after.

A lot was revealed at CES 2016 that hotels should keep an eye on. This year is looking big for upgrades within the hospitality industry, and the most successful in the field will be the early adopters who prioritize a top-of-the-line user experience—or top-shelf, in the case of Somabar.

About the Author
Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, a fully integrated platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing virtual reality and other immersive experiences across all devices, including headsets, mobile, and desktop.