Marriott creates smart guestroom lab

The room is powered by three linked networks and could power down automatically when the customer leaves.

A new hotel room prototype from Marriott would let guests control everything from the temperature of the shower to the color of the light with the sound of their voice. The smart hotel rooms include devices and amenities that respond to individual guests and are customizable based on their preferences. The rooms are designed as an application of the Internet of Things — the connection of physical devices in a network.

The IoT Guestroom Lab, part of Marriott’s 10,000-sq-ft Innovation Lab, has Marriott partnering with Samsung and Legrand to make everyday devices that are becoming more connected and responsive.

Marriott International officials presented two rooms Tuesday—one mimicking a standard hotel room that could be refurbished to allow for more technological control and another showing a room built from scratch to fully implement the latest advancements, reports Bethesda Magazine.

“We know that our guests expect to personalize almost everything in their lives, and their hotel experience should be no different,” said Stephanie Linnartz, global chief commercial officer, Marriott International, in a statement. “By teaming with best-in-class partners, we are leveraging mobile and voice-enabled technology to give our guests the ability to set up the room to best meets their needs—whether that is creating the ultimate relaxation environment or one that enables productivity for business travelers.”

The room, in theory, would be largely controlled by apps and systems that remember a visitor’s preferences and past behaviors. It is powered by three linked networks and could power down automatically when the customer leaves.

The team will analyze feedback to the Internet of Things rooms over the next three months. Marriott said its customers will start to see elements of the technology in hotel rooms in the next five years.

Marriott International encompasses a portfolio of 6,400 properties across 30 brands in 126 countries and territories. The Internet of Things room, when it is rolled out, will not be cookie cutter, a Marriott spokeswoman told the Washington Business Journal—different properties might want different features. But it will be, the company said, seamless, transparent and flexible, “while customers would enjoy an integrated experience with access to their own data and information, as well as accessible voice and mobile-optimized controls.”

The room presets would be based on customers’ loyalty accounts with Marriott, allowing them to set their preferences before they arrive. That way guests can have everything as they want it when they arrive in the room: the temperature, brightness, even whether the drapes are open. The same presets could be saved for whatever Marriott brand hotel they stay at.

Once guests arrive, they can set the atmosphere to their liking by the turn of a switch or voice commands. Pete Horton, VP of business development of Legrand, a partner with Marriott in the project, demonstrated this to Bethesda Magazine by telling an Amazon Alexa, which a room would have, to heat the shower to a specific temperature and setting the room setting to “reading light”—after which the lights got whiter and softer. The mini-fridge could come stocked with items guests select or preset items they want at every hotel they stay at.

The use of voice-activated technology is not limited to Marriott, however. It's a trend that is growing throughout the hotel industry. Earlier this year, Best Western Hotels & Resorts began testing the use of Amazon Dot devices in its hotels for guests and employees. The voice-activated devices can be used to communicate with the hotel—and that includes ordering roomservice, checking the weather or reporting issues with the room.

Late last year, Wynn Las Vegas became the first hotel to equip all of its 4,748 hotel rooms with the Echo, Amazon's hands-free voice-controlled speaker. Alexa was fully-operational in all guestrooms by last summer and will initially control guestroom lights, room temperature, drapery and the television. As the project evolves, future features such as personal assistant functions will be introduced.