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BLE, NFC Bring Concierge Service to Carnival Cruises

The Ocean Medallion wearable device will enable future cruise-line passengers to access rooms, place orders and receive personalized service, simply based on their location aboard a cruise ship and their pattern of behavior.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: BLE, NFC
Jan 11, 2017

Passenger cruise company Carnival Corp. is planning the launch of a new automated service that combines Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technologies to provide visitors with a more personalized cruise-line experience. The Ocean Medallion is a wearable device that features both NFC and BLE functionalities, in order to provide guests with private room access, services and content based on their location within a cruise ship, when used with an app or cruise-line touch screen.

The device also enables the company's management and personnel to know where particular passengers are located at any given time, so that they can optimize their own services—such as knowing when a stateroom is unoccupied and ready for cleaning, for instance, or locating a passenger who requested a drink. Beginning late this year, passengers on board the Regal Princess, a cruise ship owned by Carnival brand Princess Cruises, will be the first users of the Medallion Class Ocean Vacations service that employs the Ocean Medallion technology.

Carnival's John Padgett
The system operates on Carnival's Experience Innovation Operating System (xIOS) software network, which manages BLE- and NFC-based data throughout each cruise ship. Passengers can access content based on their current location and history, via a digital concierge portal known as the Ocean Compass, which they can access on their own smart devices running the Carnival app, or on kiosks and touch screens located onboard the ship or in home ports. Employees also carry tablet devices to view the Ocean Compass data related to passengers within their vicinity.

Each participating passenger will carry or wear an Ocean Medallion. The device was developed as an accessory to bring passengers seamless service, according to John Padgett, Carnival's chief experience and innovation officer.

The system will consist of 7,000 sensors with built-in NFC readers and BLE beacon receivers installed throughout the ship. Each reader and receiver will receive communications from Ocean Medallions worn or carried by passengers wherever they move around the vessel. The Ocean Medallion contains 13.56 MHz NFC RFID technology, as well as BLE to enable multiple services. NFC ensures secure short-range reads, while the BLE technology offers a longer range to help users access location-based content.

After booking their cruise reservations, passengers are invited to receive the wearable medallion. If they opt to use the device, they are also invited to provide information about their preferences, such as foods and activities, so that information can be stored along with their reservation. They can also supply account information related to social-media networks, such as Facebook, to automatically link cruise activity information to their account. The unique ID number in a medallion's BLE beacon and NFC transponder is then linked to the corresponding individual's information in the xIOS software. Carnival etches the passenger's name on the medallion and ships it to that individual prior to the cruise. The passenger can then download the app, enabling him or her to view content related to the voyage.

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