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Hotel, meet smartphone. Smartphone, meet hotel.

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In the near future, checking into a hotel will be completely automatic, allowing visitors to settle their bills and access their rooms using only an app and mobile technologies like NFC or Bluetooth.

South Africa’s leading hotels are expected to digitally change the way in which guests can check in to hotels in the near future. New programmes and technologies will help speed up and may even do away with the check-in process, says PwC’s Hospitality & Gaming Industry.

“Hotel business models are increasingly undergoing change in the advent of the digital era. Consumers are choosing when, where and how they want to interact with hotels, using an array of technological devices,” says Nikki Forster, PwC Leader of Hospitality & Gaming Industry for Southern Africa.

Technology is making it easier and more efficient for guests to access hotels whenever and wherever they want. This is done by way of technological devices that usually involve strategically designed and free smartphone apps and Bluetooth technologies, says Veneta Eftychis, PwC Senior Manager, Hospitality & Gaming Industry.

On installation of an app, guests can do an array of things such as selecting their hotel rooms, as well as making reservations and payment. They can also check in online and have direct access to their rooms on arrival. Ultimately, with apps and Bluetooth technologies, guests’ phones become their room keys for the duration of their stay – “they need not stop at the reception,” says Eftychis.

In addition, apps allow guests control in-room electronics, such as air conditioners, TV sets, curtains and blinds. They can even order room service and make reservations for restaurants and spa treatments.

Once guests have checked out of hotels, the apps delete the NFC (Near Field Communications) or Bluetooth code for the room.

Eftychis says according to research carried out in the hotel industry, hoteliers believe the technology will make their guests much happier. “It also makes for more streamlined and efficient running operations,” she adds. In addition, the technology will provide hoteliers with more marketing and branding opportunities.

“Hotel guests can expect their experiences to be very different in the near future from that of the traditional hotel. Many hotels still have a long way to go and need to instill a culture of innovation within a business model that can adapt to the opportunities that the digital age can bring. Truly innovative hotel brands will seek to exploit the digital wave to further grow increased loyalties and revenue,” concludes Eftychis.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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