Hospitality Upgrade reached out to the team at DANNI Enterprises to provide a summary of experiences from HITEC 2016.  Each team member scouted HITEC through the lens of his or her specific area of expertise.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

Geoff McDowell, Areas of expertise: new build openings, international systems installations and procurement

#HITECnola Part 4
The general theme from nearly all locking vendors was BLE. However, when I asked each vendor offering it to demonstrate it, the speed of unlocking was unacceptably slow for every vendor. It was not clear why, although two vendors said it was related to the strength of Wi-Fi/cellular coverage in the exhibit hall which affected the delivery of the credentials to the phones. If this is the case, this will be something that operators need to investigate before implementing BLE locking. 

There were also lock opening delays from some vendors due to the lock having to wake up before it could get and process the credentials. Y!kes communication with the lock was different in that there is a physical button visible installed on the door itself that the guest has to touch to initiate communication but the guest can leave the phone in their pocket or purse, something that is more streamlined and user friendly than having to have your phone in your hand. 

All vendors said they supported common area keys but when asked about multiple keys for guest rooms (multiple guests using phones to unlock the room door) the general response was that technically they could do it or would be willing to do it but the restrictions were being placed on them by the hotel operators.  Providing credentials for different phones and the management thereof was seen as still too complicated for a seamless guest experience.  Y!kes has a shared keys feature where a guest can send their credentials to other phones with the Y!kes app.  This provides for multiple keys per room without having to download credentials to multiple phones.
Several newer vendors, while offering BLE, only provide SDKs to corporations for them to include in their own company apps and the companies would have to provide their own credential processing.  The more established larger vendors such as KABA and VingCard provide a turnkey solution where they manage the credential process. MIWA provides a local BLE solution that requires the guest to hand their phone to the staff member to have the credential entered via direct BLE from a Bluetooth antenna plugged into a USB port on a laptop/PC.  This type of solution would make BLE possible for a standalone hotel. However, there would still have to be some type of development with the app to be used by the customer.  This disparity in approaches is something that needs to be taken into account in evaluating BLE options from locking suppliers when choosing a new system that “has BLE”.

OpenKey and Y!kes have interfaces with several lock vendors.  If a hotel group has different door locking systems in different hotels they can still provide the guest with a common app that will open the doors from any of the locking systems in any hotel of that group that they check in to. 

KABA has provided a new locking version that allows third-party levers and escutcheons to be more easily incorporated, providing more selection for hotels and interior designers. 

Hotek is a Netherland-based company that has developed “upgrades” to RFID for hotels with legacy magstripe Saflok, VingCard and Timelox door locks.  They replace the magstripe reader components with RFID ones that also support BLE without having to change the lock, escutcheon or handle.  Hotels with significant budget constraints can upgrade to RFID at a much lower cost than replacing their door locks.  Hotek also has their own line of RFID door locks.

Room control/energy management systems

While Inncom was acquired by Honeywell several years ago, Honeywell has now begun to emphasize the Honeywell name more. The booth at HITEC was very clearly a Honeywell booth with Inncom as the product being marketed.  One challenge these systems have had internationally is having the right people selling and servicing them as they are typically sold through a variety of dealers or general contractors.  Selling through Honeywell should improve consistency of both sales and service.  From a product standpoint, the company presented a new, more modern design style for their international switches, including new capacitive touch thermostats, and were about to launch a similar product set for domestic U.S. locations.  Both of these are going to be helpful to interior designers providing them with more options for what are essential, but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, in-room devices. The company also presented its analytics service to help hotels better understand and use the data that the system can generate. Ensuring the system works to maximum efficiency and provides an ROI has always been the challenge for the more sophisticated room control systems. 

Intello Technologies provides a Web-based software package for managing NEST thermostats and other NEST devices that hotels may have installed rather than having to monitor and manage them independently as the devices were originally designed to operate. I’m not sure how many hotels would install NEST thermostats (small boutique hotels?) but this may be viable in a residential/rental operation where the management team may want to be able to monitor them when owners are away or when units are rented out.

Interel presented the first BLE-based interface between a door locking system (Hafele) and Interel’s guestroom control system.  I’m not sure what additional benefits doing this has over other interfaces such as Zigbee, unless this just simplifies the number of interfaces and networks.  The company also demonstrated the use of its built-in beacons to allow simple standalone devices such as buttons to tell staff laundry or room service tray pickup is required, connecting these to their door panels to provide the notice on the panel to the staff and centrally to the management system.  Such notifications may improve customer service through faster, more accurate communication to the hotel team.  The most interesting item was its IP-based water management and control system (2016 HTNG Innovation award winner) where guests have an intuitive control over temperature and water flow. An eco-mode allows the hotel to optimize the most water and energy efficient settings.  The guestroom management system allows different maximum water temperatures to be predefined based on guest or housekeeping presence in the room. Interel says that hotels can benefit from significant water and energy OPEX savings, with access to online real time water consumption data, as well as fewer leaks and a longer life for the property's plumbing infrastructure, as pipes within the room are no longer required to be under pressure.  Major CAPEX savings would be possible on the plumbing infrastructure of each room, as the piping and control approach replaces the two traditional hot and cold pipes with one blended guestroom water pipe system during the construction of the hotel.  However, this solution appears to be only appropriate for new construction or major renovations.  It would require a great deal of work to retrofit into any existing property.

Onity, like Inncom, is more clearly identifying itself as part of a larger company, United Technologies, and is starting to present synergies with other companies in the UT group.  Onity said it is working with Telkonet guestroom devices to integrate with its own UT Automated Logic BMS product, a full building BMS, to be able to provide a full energy management view of the entire hotel using a Web-based client.  Integration with the Onity door locking system is pending.

Saia – Brugess Controls (SBC) is a Swiss-based guestroom control system used in citizenM. It is programmable logic controller (PLC)-based which they say makes it easier to program customer requirements as the devices are used to control the endpoints are more generic.  The size of the controller for a guestroom was more compact than others I have seen and cabling connections were all plug and play which makes installation simpler.  The system as installed in citizenM uses iRIS for the guest interface.  The other interesting thing in the booth was a wireless light switch that did not require a backbox.  The company had them mounted on a glass panel and they were functional. 

Telkonet presented its Hospitality EcoManage App that allows customers to integrate the features and control of the EcoSmart system within the existing guest application.  The company also presented a new capacitive touch wireless thermostat that can be installed anywhere and moved without rewiring as room renovations occur or room designs change. Also demonstrated were prototypes of being able to control the EcoSmart platform with voice or Tweet.  The voice option seems to be a good step. However, it will have to handle accents, different spoken volume and the amount of background noise.  If sold internationally, foreign language processing would be useful, even in U.S. gateway cities.  I did not see how using a Tweet to control the room would work, but I would think a guest facing app would be more effective than texting in some specific format. 

Verdant Environmental’s system is aimed at the one-to-three star market and is self-installable (90 percent of the company’s installations are self-installed according to the people at the booth).   It can be installed in a wired or wireless configuration (beneficial for retrofits) and uses Web- based software for remote monitoring and management. The system uses smart thermostats that can control everything from PTACs to fan coil units, and uses combination motion/thermal detectors to determine when room is occupied. While there is no interface to door locking to help with occupancy determination the system can be set to an assumed occupied state for a period of hours (which could be during the day for a room rented as day use), so that the room is assumed occupied and lack of motion will not cause setback of the HVAC system.  The temperature setback is also based on the amount of time it takes that room to recover to the desired guest temperature based on aggregating data from the heating/cooling cycles, not a fixed system wide setback, making recovery faster on a room specific basis.  While it does not offer the sophistication with all the interfaces of the higher end products it appears fast and easy to install in both new builds and especially retrofits where basic energy management is desired. 


This special report is part of a 6-part HITEC 2016 summary focusing on specific technology areas from this year’s event. The previously released part 1 and 2 are available on the TechTalk Blog. And segments 4-6 are available at the links below.

Part 1 
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Part 6
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