Written by: Andrea Shockling Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 .
Cutting edge hotels already offer more than just a bed and bath for your convenience. But if SerranoBrothers Design Studio in Spain has anything to say about it, staying in the hotel room of the future might very well be like sleeping inside a particularly comfortable smart phone. At the International Tourism Fair in January, SerranoBrothers presented their concept room designed with Spain’s Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero (ITH), an innovation center for the Spanish hotel industry which focuses on innovation through technology. The ITH Room Xperience combines cutting edge design and technology that could soon be coming to an upscale hotel near you.
Interactivity and flexibility far beyond anything most of us have experienced will be yours at the touch of a screen or with a simple voice command. It’s a bit like traveling with a giant Siri, the voice-activated iPhone assistant. Speak, and this hotel room’s walls will listen; touch, and they will show you what you want to see. Beyond the entertainment possibilities – imagine walls covered top to bottom with movie options, web sites, and music choices – the ITH Room Xperience could also be a powerhouse for business travelers, with smartboard technology like Microsoft’s Surface table built right in.
“We opt for a room with the ability to transform itself according to guest needs and their experiential expectations,” said Diego Serrano, co-founder of SerranoBrothers.
In their proposal, a central sleeping pod is surrounded by a work space and vanity area leading into a modern bathroom and spa. SerranoBrothers’ design philosophy takes into consideration how this flexible room could benefit guests and hotel management alike, connecting us both intimately and globally. Some of the more functional components of a traditional hotel room, such as closets, minibar, and luggage storage, are hidden behind responsive fabric-covered walls. There’s not a conventional window in the place; instead, window “eyes” open from the fabric panels, their irises triggered by remote control or sensor. Missing your family while you’re way? Plaster the walls with your favorite photos from your phone. Not sure what to wear to your meeting, or where to find the hottest local restaurant? Consult the weather or local transit maps on those same interactive walls. Sharing the work space with a colleague but still wanting some privacy? Change the opacity and transparency of the sleeping pod and bathroom wall dividers.
Perhaps the coolest part of all? The technology for many of these concepts already exists today. Transparent touchscreens, radio mirrors, Microsoft’s Surface, even interactive floors are all on the market. Every savvy business traveler already has a smart phone, but using that phone to control and interact with this hotel room’s special features might also be a way to get individuals more comfortable with the unconventional design. Coupled with changing wall surfaces and fabric panels, however, this twenty-first century technology takes on a more futuristic feel that SerranoBrothers acknowledges isn’t totally practical for many hotel visitors. While some of these features will become the norm one day soon, others may not simply because so much technology can actually be too overwhelming.
The fabric walls and window “eyes” may in fact be the hardest sell for travelers. The juxtaposition of softer organic forms with touch screen panels is jarring in the concept renderings, and will be much more unfamiliar to the public than transparent displays and voice commands. As more technology is incorporated into our homes and businesses, it’s only natural to expect it in hotel rooms as well. We predict that most hotels won’t rush to install convertible fabric walls and window openings as quickly as they might a voice activated digital concierge. And that’s just fine in our book.
Still, we look forward to a time when customizing our hotel experiences is as easy as it appears to be in SerranoBrothers’ hotel room of the future.
Image source: serranobrothers.com