It’s a sign of industry recognition when a travel industry company is chosen to keynote the largest technology show in the world. Ed Bastian, CEO of USA based airline, Delta Airlines delivered the keynote to CES, providing an overview of their vision for the future airline journey and their active attempts to build a connected trip experience. Delta followed this up on the show floor with an interactive pavilion of the technology they have in a close to adoption stage. Coming to Detroit first in Summer.
For the first time CES also ran a Travel & Tourism conference on the Monday drawing significant names to discuss big picture travel technology possibilities and the connected trip.
TRAVHOTECH toured CES with a specific focus on products and solutions with an application toward hospitality technology and travel technology and the travel and hospitality industry in general.
And away went CES from there!
The CES experience
To say that CES is overwhelming is an understatement. Spread across five major venues in Las Vegas, there is a logical reason that the show is open for four full days. To do the show justice it requires all of this time. TRAVHOTECH spent a full day at Sands Expo and only saw 3/4 of the hall. A full day at the Las Vegas Convention Center constantly on the move to get through the exhibits. Comfortable shoes and purpose!
Flying, Riding and Airport mobility
Flying taxi drones are coming with Melbourne earmarked for tests this year. The show presented a number of drone taxi solutions with the most striking being Bell, best known for helicopters as well as the Hyundai-Uber partnership. Several of the traditional automotive brands demonstrated tech for airborne vehicles. Peninsula hotels generally have a helicopter landing pad on the roof and an arrival lounge in their properties. Before too long this type of experience might be more ubiquitous, causing a rethink in design for hotels and buildings in general. A different arrival experience!
One of the show award winners – a personal e-scooter that folds into a backpack for urban mobility. Lightweight, 13 mile range at up to 20mph. Designed for last mile commuting. Great for hospitality staff commuting in cities and perhaps even available to visiting guests for their in-location transportation needs.
We particularly liked the airport solution for smart mobility where robots and mapping have combined for passengers requiring wheelchair assistance at the airport. Instead of being wheeled around, the robot wheelchair knows the flight and gate destination of the passenger, but allows them to have self-control of their access around the airport until they need to be at the gate versus being deposited at the gate and left to sit and wait. One of the strongest applications of tech we saw that solves a genuine challenge and returns a level of independence to people needing this type of support.
The Eureka hall at Sands Expo, focused on young companies and startups, proved to be a highlight of the event with a plethora of technology with potential application for travel and hospitality. Many countries hosted a state sponsored booth where vendors could present their solutions. Israel, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland and France all had installation of varying scale. In keeping with the startup theme Techstars also had a stage in the Eureka Hall where vendors were actively presenting their technology and pitch competitions were held.
We saw smart fridge technology based on RFID technology, bar marketing tech leveraging e-drink coupons, in destination home cooking experiences, Tea, Wine dispenser and cocktail making machines, beacon driven proximity solutions, self monitoring & cleaning toilets, online F&B ordering, web based AR solutions, shared rental management solutions for income and expense management and distribution, anti tamper/entry monitoring for luggage and guestrooms, smart network video and surveillance solution that actively manages bandwidth throughput for consistent video quality across network topologies, managed wireless power solutions – connected and disconnected, on demand laundry service, converged network and security management solutions, next generation efficient cooling for data centers, light weight simple mobile device operating systems, video voicemail and call screening, smart asset tracking, and designer tech safe deposit boxes with supporting personal management app.
We particularly liked the smart camera AI solution for front of house or retail locations that senses guest emotional state in real time, feeding this information back to customer facing staff for better management of the guest encounter. Great for the approaching customer who has had a bad day or is upset due to a service failure.
Vive le France!
France had an outsized presence at the show. Alone in the Eureka hall 200 company’s came to CES under the French banner to present their products. They also had locations in the other halls for more established companies. Very impressive and valuable.
We reviewed technology for portable, inflatable self contained ‘tents’ including solar power generation and environmental control, portable solar power installations, mountain trail mapping, advanced chat bots for operational process improvement, data consolidation, normalization and unified presentation of tourism information, workforce sentiment, user driven environmental and scent branding, on-premise device agnostic secure messaging for workforce, in room voice assistants combining Avatar’s, website overlays to customize the content and user experience and a simple to deploy indoor mapping and way-finding app.
We liked the smart greenhouse from myFood and could foresee such a solution being deployed at many a city hotel or restaurant where the operation has a focus on locally produced or organic produce. Taking roof gardens to the next level.
Pre CES TRAVHOTECH spent time with the France Tourism Lab and the City of Las Vegas providing a briefing on the Las Vegas travel & hospitality market. We also spent extended time with the team from My Smart Jarvis who have designs on combining the smart home, ergonomic and environmental experience across locations with common application of preferences and settings. The connected environment – settings from the home to….the hotel room, vehicle or office. A high minded objective with genuine convenience and application.
Always a favorite for industry tech and thanks to invitation from Shawn O’Connell we reviewed what is coming to market from Samsung. In general greater connectivity and genuine integration across their product stack. The solution set includes office tech and smart meeting room solutions integrated with video conferencing. A full solution for hotel TV content including the latest range of TV’s with ‘set top box’ capability on board, integrated casting from personal devices, content provider apps like Netflix et al and integrated login for the commercial environment. The Magicinfo suite is moving tantalizingly close to delivering a single content source, design and deployment management solution across all display types from a single vendor. Simplifying one of the most difficult aspects of hospitality tech.
Among the products ‘The Frame’ TV, by name appearing as picture on the wall including artwork. Also, ‘The Sero’, a B&O/Loewe design like standalone TV with hi-design sound bar mount and a screen that automatically rotates based upon the content cast from the phone. The piece de resistance – ‘The Wall’ now with 8K display. A photo does not do justice to the quality and dynamism of the image and colors on these screens.
You’re the voice
We were also invited to review the guest room voice solution that Samsung company, Harman has developed in conjunction with MSC Cruises. Through the collaboration the two company’s have developed a voice assistant for the cruise line that is multilingual and can be deployed as an on premise solution. Naturally this is mission critical for the Cruise industry as the level of internet connectivity to support land based solution is commercially unrealistic from a cost & bandwidth perspective.
We thought it was an excellent demonstration of Samsung and Harmans’ organisational capability and a great marriage of technology for a very specific business challenge. MSC has ensured connection with their TV experience in the cabin as well as way-finding solutions with their on-board app. The project also developed a purpose built smart speaker that is deployed on board MSC ships.
David Berger’s Volara also had a major announcement at CES with partner Google moving the industry leading voice assistant beyond the Q&A function and delivering a real time translation service in conjunction with Google translate. TRAVHOTECH reviewed the Volara solution two years ago and at the time noted that the ability to support Google devices would expand the language capability and conversation data base beyond Amazon’s current language exposure for a better overall guest experience.
Translation is the icing on the cake making this a highly valuable capability for hotel, retail and any front of house location where international custom is a norm. It can probably handle the Australian accent now! They have piloted the product with Dream Hotel Group.
As would be anticipated Robots had a large presence at the show. Many providing novelty or kitch value. Although we noted a number with genuine application for industry. Of note were an external window cleaning robot, cafeteria dining room delivery robot, LG’s cafeteria come restaurant robot team including Maitre’d, on table Waiter or order taker and delivery robot. In the back of house the dishwasher robot. Also a coffee barista robot station complete with coffee bar seating for multiple persons. Other applications included scaled up robots for public area cleaning of floor surfaces, security and monitoring robots, plant and machinery, environment monitoring robot solutions, a beach cleaning robot. Even a robot that serves Raclette!
We could not go past friends and Las Vegas local company, Haddington Dynamics, Dexter. This year at the show Dexter was painting with water colors and changing the arm-end tool to test silicon terminations as deployed for DuPont. Dexter’s capability, manufacturing process, being 3D printed and assembled in Las Vegas, smart programming technology that can be achieved by moving the robot through the motion required or by programming, and the unmatched haptic dexterity, as referred to in it’s name shows what is practical and possible today with a low cost, highly user friendly robot companion.
Hospitality Technology Hacks & Pundits
On Thursday night we convened with 50 of our fellow industry technology peers from all over the world for HTHP at modern Thai restaurant, Lamaii.
It was another great evening full of fine food and beverage, industry camaraderie, discussion about technology seen at CES and an industry attendance from all over the world. Of course, the Pineapple follies! It’s a great way to wind down from a busy week at CES with friends.
Overall when looking through a travel & hospitality lens there was plenty to discover this year at CES. Attendance was well worth the price of admission and there were a depth of applicable technology for the travel and hospitality industries.
If you would like to learn more about any of the technology that we reviewed at the show please feel free to make contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.