Weak Business Case? Or Just Poor Timing?

by on December 22, 2009 · 4 comments

With weather-related travel trauma so prominent on my Twitterscope, and with news that the federal government is banning flight delays, I stopped short when I read this techology pitch:

One of the biggest hassles of travel has to be keeping track of those pesky hotel key cards and then trying to remember which way to fit the darned things in the wide variety of door locks. But that may soon change.

New technology’s been introduced and will soon be test marketed in Las Vegas hotels that allows guests to use their cell phones — any cell phone model at all — to unlock their hotel room door.

I’m not persuaded at all. The difficulty of managing hotel keys doesn’t even rate on my list of travel hassles.

The solution offered up is:

a simple system in which a computer generates a unique series of tones (that sounds kind of like those digitized cell phone ringtones used early this decade) that is then sent to the mobile device. When the tone is played outside the designated guestroom, a microphone incorporated in the locking system IDs the tone and unlocks the door.


There might be value to this technology or (more probably) others like it. Getting secure credentials onto people’s phones has a lot of promise.

But this iteration? Should it survive testing, and the easily imaginable failure modes and attacks on it, it might provide a scintilla of convenience in hotels.

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