Ease on Down the Road
New technology is making traveling better, easier, and more comfortable for people with disabilities.
Whether on the road for business or pleasure, wheelchair users and other travelers with disabilities are finding a host of new technology to help make their journey a bit more comfortable.
Technology is one of the largest expenditures for the hospitality industry. It was easy to see how seriously the industry took that during the HITEC show in Baltimore earlier this year. Sponsored by the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals Association, the event is the largest hospitality technology show in the world.
The question for many was whether there were enhancements that would improve the guest experience for people with disabilities. The good news is yes.
There definitely are companies creating solutions that benefit people of all abilities. Some gadgets make hotel stays more comfortable, and others save hoteliers money.
Some of these products are costly and may only be found in some of the most expensive hotels. However, the introduction of these technologies is a view into the future of all hotel rooms.
Say “Hi” to the TV
We’ve all spoken or more likely yelled at our TV for various reasons from time to time, but a new set from Samsung will actually listen.
A simple command such as, “Hi TV, power on” to the voice-activated Smart TV by Samsung will turn it on. Hotel guests can change channels, control sound, and perform advanced functions by voice command.
Software will alert hotel staff about a guest's special needs so the room can be set up before his/her arrival.
The Smart TV also has gesture control, so you can use the Internet, talk to friends on Skype, or download and use applications (apps) with the simple wave of your hand.
This television is excellent for those with vision challenges or who lack dexterity in their hands, or those of us who just don’t want to touch that germ-ridden remote ever again.
VingCard Elsafe has taken away the hassle of using key cards to open hotel room doors.
The Classic RFID allows you to get a code from the hotel at or before check-in sent to your smartphone. Your phone becomes your key. Don’t have a smartphone? That’s OK; an easy-to-use key fob allows you to place it up against the door and open it, too.
Sit Back & Relax
Every hotel room should have a Fuji Zero Gravity massage chair.
This chair uses infrared technology to determine the areas of your body that need the most tender, loving care. How wonderful would it be after a long flight or car ride to sit in this chair and let it take away your aches and pains?
Rise & Shine
The Safe Awake vibrating alarm system allows people with hearing loss or sound sleepers to rest well, knowing the alarm will sense smoke and fire and awaken them with lights, vibration, and a loud, low frequency sound. The unit comes with a powerful vibrating disc to slip under your pillow that is sure to get you up and moving in case of fire.
While not entirely high tech, the innovative Reverie Sleep System allows hotel guests to slumber in complete comfort.
It is fully adjustable to allow for raised head or feet, which is welcome to many people who require elevation when they sleep. The mattress is made of individual latex air cylinders that can be rearranged within the mattress to create a custom sleeping surface.
Your hotel housekeeper can set up your bed to the level of hardness or softness you require to sleep comfortably.
Take a Seat
Imagine never having to ask for assistance on the toilet or using coarse toilet paper that causes skin breakdowns.
The Brondell Swash 1000 Toilet/Bidet combination includes a warm air dryer and self-sterilization. If you have difficulty reaching the toilet levers, no fear — it comes with a wireless remote control.
It’s frustrating when you have to wave your hands like a magician or Jedi master to wash them in the sink. Delta has put an end to that.
Delta’s Touch2O Faucet allows people with hand weakness to tap the neck of the faucet to turn it on and off. No more having the water turn off in the middle of washing your hands!
Keep Your Cool
Having a nice bed to sleep in and comfy chair to sit on are great, but what good are those things if a room is too hot or you have a tough time working the environmental controls?
Schneider Electric, Incom, and Lutron are focused in this area with technology such as motion controls. They can sense when someone is in the room and adjust the thermostat accordingly without the guest ever having to search out the thermostat.
Don’t like the temperature? Adjust it manually, using a centralized control panel, or call the front desk and they will do it via computer.
Need your drapes opened or closed but find that most rooms don’t have a clear path or rods long enough to do the job? Motion sensors can open them when you arrive in the room or control them with the push of a button next to your bed.
Your Room Is Ready
Wheelchair users and other travelers with disabilities usually have some specific needs when checking into a hotel, and some new software could soon make it easier for those accommodations to be made.
Guestware, a property management software provider for several hotel chains, including Kimpton Hotels, has an integrated system that could allow tickets to be created upon booking to alert staff in various departments of special needs so a room could be set up for a person with disability prior to arrival.
It was one of the most wonderful advancements at the show, but it’s not being used by hotels in handling requests by people with disabilities because hotels haven’t thought of it until now.
Guestware management is planning to build a demo to show hotels the power of its product in meeting the needs of people of all abilities.
Guests would be able to provide requests for bed height, shower chairs and more without ever having to make the dreaded phone calls to the hotel property and speak with someone who has no idea what you are talking about.
Travelers with disabilities usually need a bit more information when on the road, and these free applications (apps) for your smartphone or tablet can help you make the most of your trip.
Available for: iPhone/iPad
Papa Products, LLC has partnered with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to develop a community-based app for cities around the world. Users can add locations and rate them for accessibility, as well as look up listings created by other users.
Available for: Android, iPhone, Windows Phone 7
Navigating strange airports is now easier with GateGuru. Find out the terminal layout, services, restrooms, shopping, and food choices with your smartphone instead of wandering around wasting time and energy.
Available for: Android, iPhone
These mobile audio guides give you history and details in the palm of your hand for more than a half million of your favorite landmarks.
Ease on Down the Road
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