Voice control in hotel rooms

Sarah Perez writes that Amazon is coming to hotels:

Amazon this morning is announcing a new program called Alexa for Hospitality, designed to bring its voice assistant technology to everything from chain hotels to vacation rentals. The system can be customized to include key guest information, like checkout time or pool hours; allows guests to request services like housekeeping or room service; and can be configured to control “smart” hotel room functions, like adjusting the thermostat or raising the blinds.

Marriott is Amazon’s launch partner on the new platform, which is notable not only for the potential scale of this rollout, but also because the hotelier had been testing both Siri and Alexa devices ahead of today’s news. …

Marriott says that Alexa for Hospitality will be rolled out to ten properties across the U.S. this summer.

This includes the Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina and the Marriott Irvine Spectrum in California where the company often features its latest innovations, as Hsieh noted. It will also be deployed in eight other properties across Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels brands.

The way that Amazon and TechCrunch present this is as if Alexa is being installed in hundreds or thousands of hotel rooms this summer. When you get way down and find out that Alexa is coming to “ten properties,” this sounds much more like an experiment moving into beta from alpha.

I like the idea of voice-controlled hotel rooms with some degree of automation. I don’t like the idea of Alexa listening in the hotel room, given recent instances of Alexa inadvertently being triggered and recording home conversations and given Amazon and Google’s interest in listening for the sake of ad targeting. It’s not hard to imagine scandals erupting and trust eroding when inevitable privacy breaches occur.

Given Apple’s commitment to “privacy as a human right” and their lack of interest in ad targeting, I’d be much more comfortable with HomePods and Siri voice control in hotels than what Marriott is piloting.

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