For almost 40 years, Star Wars has inspired the sci-fi fans who have grown up with the franchise as they’ve matured into the designers, computer programmers, engineers, and business people who have shaped modern society.
Remember the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when we find Darth Vader in his meditation chamber?
Is that the telepresence equipment that will become standard in every future luxury hotel room? Is Darth Vader’s video conference call to the Emperor being interrupted by an overzealous hotel maid?
Hotels of the near future are going to have to satisfy an increasingly video conference-dependent business class, so creating something as immersive as Vader’s meditation chamber may not be far from the near future.
One thing is certain, business guests are no longer impressed by big screen TVs and mini bars.
A Video Conferencing Home Away from Home
More and more, hotel guests are evaluating hotels based on their available business technologies.
Research by the University of South Florida found that the quality and availability of business-related technologies, such as high-speed internet connections and VoIP telephones, strongly influenced whether a guest enjoyed their stay at a hotel. In contrast, the availability of comfort technologies, like on-demand movies and HD TVs, were found to have no real impact at all.
And when 85% of North American workers use video conferencing in their jobs, the key to satisfying business guests in the future will heavily involve meeting their video calling requirements.
Some companies are already taking advantage of the fact that hotels aren’t caught up with video chat technology, and are renting out stand-alone video conferencing centers and rooms. These facilities are advertised through websites like WhyGo and TKO Video Conferencing, which match participants with the video conferencing tech that meets their needs.
Hotels are losing their guests to these stand-alone centers.
They need to beat them at their own game.
A Telepresence in Every Room
These interlopers offer a way for people working outside their office to sit down in front of a quality two-way camera.
To compete, all a hotel needs to do to meet basic video calling needs is introduce such cameras as standard in their guest rooms and meeting rooms.
An inexpensive huddle room video conferencing setup can turn any space the size of the average office into a collaborative den for meetings of around a dozen people. That’s a single piece of technology that just needs to be plugged into a laptop and streamed through a TV screen.
Then add a browser-based video conferencing platform with encryption that can communicate with any major video chat program and there’s no need for a guest to even login to their own account.
Of course, if the hotel wants to look really cutting edge, it could always make a special effort.
The Darth Vader Suite
And so back to Darth Vader’s meditation pod.
There will certainly come a time when business travellers will demand a total telepresence facility for their own personal use. Remember they once demanded long distance phone calls and fax machines? Welcome to the future.
Imagine if, instead of that serene white light, that walls of the far away pod were lined with telepresence monitors. And an HD quality camera. And surround sound speakers. And omnidirectional microphones.
You’d get something like this, only it might be contained within that 70’s throwback black shell.
But all that tech is available right now. As separate components, it’s not all that expensive to achieve. An HD video conferencing camera and audio setup with zoom features and a precision lens costs less than $1,000, and the rest of the room is essentially just good lighting and a series of quality flat screens.
And there it is, a luxurious masterpiece of business technology. It will be the mark of a hotel that truly understands the progressive modern business person. Ever since that Star Wars scene, they’ve dreamt of being able to do the same thing since they were children. Maybe you can go beyond this dream. Far, far beyond.