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Citizen M Checking Out RFID to Automate, Personalize Customer Service

Guests of the hotel, currently under construction, will use RFID technology to check in and out, access their rooms and set temperature, lighting and audio and video systems to match their tastes.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 08, 2007The "M" in Citizen M, a new hotel concept emerging in Amsterdam, stands for mobile. The startup is targeting adventurous travelers looking for quality digs but unwilling to pay for all the frills of luxury resorts—namely, huge rooms and valet services. But the M could also stand for modern, since the look and feel (still conceptual, since the first hotel has yet to open) will be very modern, geared toward tech-savvy travelers. The hotel startup plans to open its first location—at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam—by the end of March 2008, followed by more hotels across Europe.

The hotels are being built with pod-like rooms that are prefabricated off site and then, literally, plugged into the main hotel structure like Lego pieces. Citizen M worked with Philips Applied Technologies, a research and development arm of Philips Electronics, to design and build the concept. The rooms are currently being fabricated at a factory in Amsterdam, and RFID technology will play a vital role in the hotel's operations.

Visitors can use a "moonpad" (a large Wi-Fi-enabled handheld controller) to wirelessly adjust the temperature and audio-visual components inside each room.

A guest's experience with the hotel will begin with an online reservation service, explains Philips Applied Technologies' integral project manager, Peter Boon. During registration, the visitor will be asked the nature of the trip (business, vacation or a romantic getaway), as well as preferences regarding lighting, music and temperature. These preferences will then be saved in a profile linked to that particular customer.

Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest will walk up to a computer kiosk, call up the reservation and pick up an RFID card from a basket next to the kiosk. The reservation software will instruct the individual to hold the card up to an interrogator embedded in the kiosk. This will enable the software to access the unique ID encoded to the NXP Semiconductors Mifare Ultralight high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz passive RFID inlay embedded in the card, and associate that number with the guest's reservation information and preferences.

As soon as check-in is complete, the hotel's reservation database will send a message to the facility's centrally located main heating and cooling system, which will begin adjusting the room to the guest's desired temperature. The visitor will then unlock the room's door by holding the RFID card up to a reader mounted near the door handle.

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