First there was the key, then there was the key card, but the latest way to open the door of a hotel room might be through your cell phone. Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the pilot of a mobile-based front desk bypass solution that gives guests at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago O'Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown the option to skip the front desk and open their room through the use of a cell phone key. Guests will have the option to "enroll" for MobileKey through an email sent before their check-in date. The day of arrival the guest receives a text message with the room number and a secured link to retrieve the room key. Check out the video demonstration above to see how it works. Each CAC "aural" key produced is encrypted, unique and becomes obsolete from the moment it is used for optimum security.
OpenWays, the company that created the MoblieKey technology, uses the principle of Crypto Acoustic Credential (CAC™) and text messaging (SMS) to securely deliver an encrypted tone or "credential" to the right user anywhere in the world. The solution is compatible with the latest smartphones (including the new Apple iPhone 4 and 3GS, the Google Android-based phones, Blackberries, etc.) and every other cell phone and carrier worldwide as well as all the major electronic-locking systems and access-control systems. More information on the program is available on the IHG Innovation Center blog. It will be interesting to see how well the program is received. While it seems radical now and many have concerns about security and ease of use, I wouldn't be surprised to see this or a similar system become a standard option for many hotels within the next few years.