Oprah Winfrey once said, “Turn Your Wounds into Wisdom,” and it applies more today than ever. The entire world is adapting to the hardships suffered under a global pandemic, and while science races to find a vaccination, hospitality technology is experiencing a renaissance of innovation and inspiration.
The availability of 3-D printers makes it possible for everyday people to create unique life hacks, such as 3-D printed masks, visors, and even parts for medical devices. Micro-brews are converting their operations to include hand sanitizer, and web-conferencing has gone from being a meeting-facilitation platform to the way we now stay connected with loved ones.
This new wave of innovation and adaptability is inspired by the human spirit and the desire to help each other survive hardships while trying to live as healthy a life as possible.
Technology evolves at an alarming rate, and is often challenging to keep up with, but here’s a look across the board at how the hospitality technology sector is innovating to the “new normal”:
Although reliant on the honesty of the user, a self-assessment tool is now available to hotels that allow them to measure their internal cleaning procedures against the current global standards. Created by the Berlin-based GIATA, a “Staysafe” label is given to compliant hotels to help assure guests that they are doing all they can to make hygiene and cleaning a top priority.
One of the leaders in travel and hospitality technology, Sabre, is partnering with Paris-based Mindsay to enhance their Artificial Intelligence capabilities to include serving as a “virtual agent” capable of answering complex questions and solving difficult problems. With face-to-face conversations between travelers and airline agents being an increasingly difficult engagement to facilitate, AI-based virtual agents may be the way of the foreseeable future.
Virtual Reality has, up to this point, been a peripheral piece of technology enjoyed primarily by the video game industry. Sony offers affordable VR rigs to Playstation owners, bringing the illusion of immersive reality into living rooms across the country.
The hotel and timeshare industries have used VR sparingly in the past, typically allowing users to visit a hotel room before booking. Largely unaffordable in the past, the mainstreaming of VR equipment now allows for vacation destinations to provide a full VR experience to potential travelers.
Vacationing is exceptionally challenging to navigate in the COVID landscape, so users will likely spend even more time researching their destination to ensure it is the getaway they have probably waited a long time to enjoy. Destinations using VR to educate and entertain future guests will likely make it to the top of their list when selecting a vacation.
Select countries within Europe are now offering PPE vending machines. Selecta is offering “Safety Stations” within travel hubs to provide travelers with easy access to the PPE they need to feel safe.
While wearing masks in public continues to be a source of debate in America, other countries are already hard at work to improve the mask-wearing experience and their usefulness.
Muffled speech is a consistent issue among mask-wearers, and social distancing only makes it more difficult to speak clearly and understand one another. Japan-based Donut Labs has developed a mask that will translate the wearer’s speech, making it more understandable.
Both Switzerland and China are working along similar lines when it comes to masks, by developing germ-killing and self-cleaning masks. These improvements could significantly help reduce waste, ensure masks are available for all and help ease fears related to socialization.
The Edge of Tomorrow
The results of the most current data urge people to avoid prolonged periods within closed spaces. These precautions do not bode well for those who rely on driver-assisted services such as Uber, Lyft, Cabs, and public transportation. Regardless of your personal driving choices, these services are essential when traveling away from home without your means of ground transportation.
Although they have made the occasional headline over the years, self-driving autonomous automobiles are now on the development fast-track. China-based Didi just received a $500 million investment from SoftBank to develop the technology that powers self-driving cars.
Domestically, Amazon recently acquired the company, Zoox, for a reported $1 billion. Zoox specializes in both hardware and software for autonomous vehicles. This remarkable investment signals the rise of self-driving automobiles in the US is just over the horizon.
At virtually every challenging turn in humankind’s history, innovation has been the result. With the globe struggling together with COVID-related challenges, we look forward to reporting on future developments designed to help us all see the world again.
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