I keep telling my audiences to seek to deploy the magical in mobile. It is the ultimate magical device, and in a perfect world the phone seems to read our minds and to operate telepathically for us. Here is a great example. Holiday Inn hotels in America are experimenting with a system to allow hotel customers to use their smartphones as their electronic keys to the hotel room.
Actually the technical solution is to me a bit overkill techie using some clever acoustics, run by a smartphone app. But right off the bat, the good thing is that Holiday Inn is doing this across multiple smartphone platforms, so they do RIM Blackberry, Apple iPhone and Google Androids at least. I would expect if they don't have them yet, they'll soon also do Symbian and Java versions.
Now, the clever bit. This is magical. One, we don't go back home if we forget our wallet or our keys. We do return if we forget our phone. It is the only device we insist on having with us at all times. How many times have frequent travellers left a hotel room with the key forgotten into the room? Then consider, how many times have you left a hotel room forgetting your phone - it just doesn't happen. So to have the electronic key enabled on our phone is better than forcing us to carry some piece of electronic plastic and remember that in the right clothing when we rush into the hotel room to switch clothes from the business meeting to our casual evening etc...
Secondly, it of course is connected to the hotel's electronic security system. At the least, it is exactly as secure as any other electronic key, but it can be made to be far more secure on the phone - if for example the system is set for asking a password - say there is a conference room area with some very sensitive systems that only selected execs may visit - then adding a password is easy to do on a phone based app - but if a plastic key based door and lock is used, anyone who steals the plastic key can gain access. Even stealing my phone won't give you the access if there is a user password added to this particular room etc.
And we have the freedom of doing this across multiple phones of course, so parents and kids can all have their phones enabled (assuming in this technical case, that they are smartphones of course).
The beauty is that we are moving away from the unnecessary gadgets - like keys. A totally unnecessary relic of past centuries. Now with electronic locks, why isn't every electronic lock connected to phones. I think far simpler solutions can be used such as IVR - just register the phone number with the locking system - and the hotel manages this obviously and makes it secure - then when the one phone registered to that room makes a call to our IVR system, we open the door. We don't even have to 'answer' the call, we can just detect the phone number and authorize the lock to be opened. Simple, easy. Its being used at many parking garages for example to handle garage door opening without having a paid human sitting there all day managing the garage door haha (as I write in my books).
Yes, this is magical. Great innovation from America and from the tourist industry. Wow. Love it. Its 100% a '7th mass media' type of a solution. Congrats to Holiday Inn hotels.