Check-in phone

Long queues after a tiring day on the road is an unwelcome sight for any traveler, but a new electronic-locking solution, which communicates with cell phones, allows hotel guests to breeze past the front desk.

Signature RFID by VingCard communicates with NFC-compatible cell phones to check in, check out, and open guests’ doors, effectively eliminating some of the top complaints facing hotels.  

NFC (Near Field Communication) is a short-range wireless technology just waiting for mobile network operators and cell phone manufacturers to catch up with it. It is being implemented in a new generation of cell phones, which will soon be commercially available. Guests who prefer to use their NFC phones will no longer need a card or a key to enter their hotel rooms. The user just waves his phone to the lock and the door opens.

The latest mobile technology
The keys to access the hotel rooms are delivered over the air using NXP Semiconductors’* “mifare4mobile” platform. With this platform, hotels that are using VingCard RFID electronic locks today won’t have to change their equipment later on, says President of ASSA ABLOY Hospitality EMEA and Latin America, Pascal Metivier, because the “mifare4mobile” platform is backward compatible with the existing contactless infrastructure. 

“All access holders can become NFC users and provide access and dispatch in a secure way, to anyone, anywhere, and at any time in the world. With this application, you don’t need to be face-to-face to give someone access to a hotel room, a home, an office or a hospital,” he says. 

This is just the beginning of the benefits for both guests and hotel owners, says Dominique Brûlé, Director of Marketing for Services Solutions at NXP Semiconductors. “In addition to the savings gained by not issuing cards, NFC will also enable additional services for hotels like phone-based loyalty programs and SMS-based marketing offers.” 

NFC cell phones have other potential advantages for the hospitality industry: with their graphical interface, guests can find their way to hotels by navigating via downloaded maps and GPS. Voice interface can also help with directions, which is especially useful for the seeing-impaired.  

Multitasking phones
But with so much packed into your mobile phone and NFC enabling users to pay, open doors and – oh yes, even make telephone calls – what happens if you lose your phone?  

“It’s better than losing your purse or wallet,” Metivier assures. “If you lose your keys and credit cards, you have to change your locks and call a bunch of different companies to block your credit cards. With the NFC-enabled cell phone, you just call the cell phone operator and everything is blocked in one call.” 

Cell phone operators can also re-create stolen or lost SIM cards for users.

The electronic locking solution is packed with security features to protect against fraud. For example, if a text message with the key code is sent to the wrong phone by mistake, or forwarded to another phone, it will not work.  

Security measures aside, what happens if the battery on your phone dies? “NFC operates even when the phone battery is empty in what is called ‘smartcard emulation mode’, so you can continue to gain access to the hotel room when the rest of the phone has stopped working,” Metivier explains. “Once you have received access rights by SMS, you can get in.”  No need to fret over being locked out.  

*Inside Technologies also provides chips for this application. 

Read more about NFC and the exciting benefits for security directors in the next issue of The Future Lab.

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