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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

The BLE technology in the medallion transmits a beacon signal in the same way that Bluetooth beacons traditionally transmit an identifier to Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. In that way, Padgett says, the Ocean system turns the typical BLE deployment on its head. Instead of the BLE receivers being in the hands of users—typically, a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet—in this case the receivers are stationary, with users carrying the BLE hardware that transmits data to those beacons.

When a passenger arrives at the ship, that person's medallion transmits a unique ID that is received by BLE sensors, and staff members can view on a tablet who is arriving based on those transmissions. This makes the receiving process faster for passengers, the company reports, since they don't need to provide tickets or identification. Upon arriving at the assigned guest stateroom, the passenger encounters a digital display installed at the door. The display comes with a built-in NFC device and Beacon receiver.

Once the device confirms that individual's identity based on the ID transmission, the system automatically unlocks the door while also greeting the guest by name on the screen. The BLE transmission enables cruise-line personnel to know whether passengers are in or out of their rooms. That information allows the staff to identify the best time to service a particular room. In addition, passengers can use the app to set their room's requested temperature or lighting conditions. Each time they access their stateroom door, the room's settings will then automatically adjust to their needs.

In addition, the BLE technology enables visitors to find their way around the large ship with the help of the Carnival app. The beacons throughout the vessel receive transmissions from a guest's medallion and forward that data to the software, which pinpoints that individual's location. The passenger can then open the app to view his or her location, as well as indicate where he or she would like to go, such as to a specific restaurant, or to view a family member's location. The app then displays the wayfinding instructions to connect that individual and the desired destination.

The system also tracks a passenger's behavior aboard the ship, so as to better personalize future service. For instance, if a guest frequently orders a favorite drink at the bar, the software stores that data, enabling a bartender to view on a tablet device when that passenger has arrived at the bar, including the individual's name and preferred drinks. When the guest pays for the beverage, staff members can use the NFC technology to gain a short secure transmission, thereby ensuring that the correct individual is being charged. That guest also typically would provide a password to authorize the charge.

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