The 2012 Consumer Electronic Show: Implications for Hospitality Industry

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March 01, 2012
2012 Consumer Electronic Show
Ted Horner - ted@hornertech.com.au

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This year’s Consumer Electronic Show was my third visit and a great opportunity to see the latest trends in consumer technology. Predicting guestroom technology requires an understanding of where consumers are headed and CES is the perfect vehicle for this objective. The show is in its 44th year and had more than 3,100 exhibitors showing over 20,000 new products. The show used three primary venues: The Las Vegas Convention Centre (LVCC), Venetian Hotel and Las Vegas Hotel.This is the equivalent of 31 football fields.

Among the fresh offerings revealed at CES are a host of televisions featuring new screen technologies and resolutions, skinny computers, net-savvy cameras and voice or motion controlled devices. While they may sound like innovations from a distant future, manufacturers promise these new creations will arrive in months not years.

 Get Set for New Televisions. After years of promises, big-screen OLED televisions should arrive later this year. Both LG and Samsung unveiled 55-inch screens using organic light-emitting diodes. LG’s OLED television has a profile of just 4mm and weights 7.5kg. OLED TVs deliver brighter colors and greater contrast, as this technology does not require backlighting, making it more energy-efficient. With TV sizes increasing up to 84 inches (213cm), this year TV makers will deliver ultra-definition resolutions offering 2000 pixels by 4000 pixels.

Ultrabooks of the Future. Laptops shrunk significantly in 2011 and are losing even more weight this year. Samsung showed a prototype of its new Series 9 Notebook with a profile of just 1.4cm, while Acer revealed the Aspire A5 with a 1.5cm thickness. Intel PC also showed future enhancements for the slender laptops, including a credit card reader and voice recognition.

Gesturing Wildly. Many upcoming products will respond to motion or voice. Television remote controls from Sony, LG and Samsung will add voice recognition features. LG and Samsung will add built-in cameras to some TV screens and deliver camera-equipped set-top boxes that will recognize your gestures. Users will be able to wave and pinch in mid-air to control all aspects of the TV without a remote.

Tablets. Tablet computers powered by Google’s Android software are increasing their global market share, but Apple’s iPad still dominates this category. According to Strategy Analytics, Android tablets increased its share of the market from 29 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. iPad accounted for 58 percent of the tablet market in that quarter, down from 68 percent a year earlier, and global tablet shipments hit a record 26.8 million units in the fourth quarter, up 150 percent from the same period a year ago.

When tablet-toting guests arrive, hotels with insufficient Wi-Fi systems are suffering from a lack of available bandwidth as guests wish to download their own content. Many guests complain about poor download experience and turn to sites such as TripAdvisor® to express this. With the increasing demand for bandwidth and the subsequent costs to provide this it is going to be difficult for hotels to offer anything but limited free Wi-Fi.

As Wi-Fi becomes a dominant platform for guests to access applications on tablets what does the future hold for the historic requirement for multiple Cat 6 cabling to each room? Is providing a cable for fixed Internet access still relevant?

Many guests are bringing their own content and are happy to watch it on that screen. Do hotels need to install expensive IPTV systems at all? We could witness a paradigm shift over the next year because of the increasing use of tablets as the principle device to access content on the road. Customers will want what they want when they want it. The key for hotels is to provide guests with the infrastructure and bandwidth they need.

If this is what guests want, how can hotels monetize the investment they make in new wireless access points and increased bandwidth?  The answer is to offer tiered bandwidth where guests are offered a range with fees directly related to the amount of bandwidth they require. The tablet revolution has changed the way customers are using technology on the road and it is up to the industry to embrace this device and give guests the same download experience they have at home.

Ted Horner is an international hospitality consultant with Jba Consulting Engineers. He can be reached at ted@hornertech.com.au.

©2012 Hospitality Upgrade
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