Thinking Tech

Hotel card key switch a turn on (and off)

Posting in Technology

Some technologies are so smart and simple, it's just plain stupid not to implement them. I was recently in the Czech Republic where the two hotels I stayed in require guests to insert their card key into a wall slot for power.

House-off switch

Some technologies are so smart and  simple, it's just plain stupid not to implement them.

I was recently in the Czech Republic where the two hotels I stayed in require guests to insert their card key into a wall slot for power. Leave the room, remove the card key and the power goes off (a Marriott in Prague smartly had a courtesy delay of a couple of minutes. The Hotel Grand in Czesky Krumlov was instant off).

This technology is smart on so many levels, but the hotel where I stayed in neighboring Austria had  traditional light switches that guests are inclined to leave on when out of the room.

I thought this device was nifty, but not everyone agrees. I found a comment from a guest in Bangkok hotel who complained such a device deep-sixed the air conditioning and his ability to charge cell phones and computers while he out of the room. This self-indulgent view is not smart, but his concern could be addressed by an always-on outlet for electronics recharging and an exception for air conditioning in warmer climes. He also could have gotten two card keys and left one in all the time.

I have yet to see such devices in the U.S., but Element Hotels, Starwood's green brand, is experimenting with them at its Lexington, Mass. hotel, according to Gabby Cohen, a spokeswoman for Element.

"Element is thinking about doing it, but it's not something we've completely rolled out. Lexington is testing ground for potentially other Elements and Starwoods," she said. Element currently has hotels in Houston, Summerlin, Nev., Lexington and at Baltimore-Washington Airport. Another hotel that keep guests honest with respect to turning off the lights is The Jane in Manhattan.

Most homes do not have card keys and the entry/exit dynamics differ from a hotel's, but a couple of years ago, an inventor named Jack Geoffrey Wood in the U.K. came up the "House-off switch" that promised to turn off all non-essential appliances, presumably by the last person out the door. That made sense too, but I'm not sure you can actually get one. And just think about House-off switch's potential to create sibling warfare.

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure