Feature Request: HomeKit support for hotel rooms using standardized names and Scenes

A number of hotel chains have been using smart home technology in their rooms for some time now, with Hilton yesterday announcing its own plans to take the idea one step further, with the ability to remember your connected room preferences and automatically apply them when you check into a new hotel.

Hilton says the Hilton Honors app will allow guests to control the temperature in their room, adjust lighting, stream content to their TV, and control Internet-connected picture frames by displaying their own personal images.

There’s also support for scenes, so every time you stay at a Hilton with Connected Room, you can tap a single button to set your room up just as you like it.

I love this idea, and I’d like to see Apple work with hotel chains to take the logical next step …

My first experience of a connected room was at a CitizenM hotel, where they have made smart tech a key part of the offering. You get a tablet in the room, and can control everything from it.

You know that feeling when you’re all cosy and curled up in bed, but forgot to lower the temperature? Well, the solution is here with our tablet mood pad. Control everything in the room from your warm hiding place under the sheets, including the television, window blinds, temperature, ambient coloured lighting, wake-up alarm themes and much more.

I loved it, but although the system is easy to use, you do have to learn a new user-interface. It struck me then that it would have been really cool had it instead used HomeKit, so that we’d be using a familiar UI.

Hilton’s implementation is a definite advance. Set all your preferences once, in the app, and it then automatically applies them to every connected Hilton hotel room you visit, wherever it is in the world.

But, again, you’re using the hotel’s app, not your own. And few of us limit our stays to a single chain, so as more hotels roll out smart room technology, we have more and more apps to use, each with its own UI.

What I’d love to see is a partnership with Apple to allow HomeKit to control connected hotel rooms in a standard way. Here’s what I envisage …

First, have a standard name – let’s say Hotels – for a second Home in the app. That way, no matter which hotel we stay in, we never have more than one additional Home in our app.

Second, have standard names for the devices in the rooms. There will be some differences in the kit offered in different hotels, of course, but if we use generic names like Ceiling Lights, Soft Lighting, Reading Lamps, Bathroom Lights, Blinds and so on, these can control the appropriate equipment in a wide variety of different rooms.

Third, have standard Scenes, again with standard names. So, we’d have normal things like Good Morning, Good Evening, Leave Hotel and so on – which would do all the usual things that would happen in a home.

But we’d also have some more hotel-specific Scenes. For example, many of us work in hotel rooms, so a Scene like Work could switch on desk lighting, open blinds and switch off the TV. A Check-in Scene could switch on all the lights so we can familiarize ourselves with the room and get unpacked.

With this approach, existing HomeKit users would feel instantly at home in any connected hotel room around the world, and everyone else would have just a single UI to learn. iPhone and iPad users could use their own devices, while hotels could provide either an in-room iPod Touch or iPad, depending on budget.

Would you like to see this? And if so, would you favor hotels that offered it? As always, please take our poll and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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