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Kyrgyzstan Resort Brings Service to the Beach With RFID

RTL Service devices with wireless communication to access points at Hotel Resort Caprice enable guests to order services, or to locate party members, while workers can use the system to find visitors before attempting to deliver food or service.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 15, 2011Visitors at the Hotel Resort Caprice, in Kyrgyzstan, can try out RFID-enabled devices that can let them locate their children, order beverages and access information regarding hotel activities. The system, known as TalkLoc, allows a guest to contact a hotel dispatcher to obtain services, or to reach other members of his or her group, using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, while TalkLoc's real-time location system (RTLS) functionality provides hotel management with that individual's location as he or she places the call, so that they can then locate that person in order to provide services, as well as maintain a record of where service requests are being made. Since being installed approximately one year ago, says Alex Leipi, Hotel Resort Caprice's property manager, the technology has led to an increase in food and beverage orders, while also enabling management to track its own efficiencies in providing service to its guests.

The system was provided by RTL Service, a Russian startup founded two years ago by a group of engineers at Petrozavodsk State University. The technology—for which the company has received a patent in Russia—was initially designed to be used for such safety applications as identifying personnel and equipment in underground mines. One aspect that makes its product unique, the company notes, is power-saving technology that prolongs the battery life, thanks to a built-in accelerometer that determines when a tag is in motion, and instructs that tag to beacon less frequently while stationary. While the RTLS solution is still in the research and development phase, the company has been testing its technology at the Kyrgyzstan resort, according to Edward Levin, RTL Service's business development director.

Each TalkLoc RFID tag has a microphone and a speaker, as well as two buttons that allow a user to request a service from hotel personnel, or to call another party member.

In 2010, the company began working with Hotel Resort Caprice, located in the northern region of Kyrgyzstan, at Lake Issyk-Kul. The 21-acre resort features a beach, pools, water slides, a playground and a spa. The TalkLoc RFID-enabled devices allow guests to order food, beverages or other services by placing calls using VoIP via a wireless connection to a hotel dispatcher, and the RFID-enabled devices provide location data so that resort employees can identify the individual's location at the time that the call is placed, as well as afterward. The dispatcher receives the call and routes it to the appropriate employee—such as a bartender, a restaurant worker or a member of the maintenance staff—who can speak with the appropriate party on the tag device.

Workers can then locate the individual on a map displayed on the software, before carrying food, a beverage or some other item to that person. In this way, the staff can locate that individual while delivering, for example, a drink or a beach chair, and also keep a record indicating when the call was placed, where the service was provided and how long the process took to complete. Both the voice calls and the RTLS transmissions comply with the IEEE 802.15.4a standard, communicating with wireless access points installed throughout the facility.

RTL Service provided the resort with around 40 of its waterproof devices, each about the size of a cell phone and attached to a lanyard worn around the neck, or carried within a pocket or purse. The firm installed access points, also known as base stations, throughout the resort buildings and beach area, and provided standalone software to manage data regarding each tag's location, as well as to enable voice communications between the device holder and staff members or another device.

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