Tech trend for 2015 and beyond: The hotel room as a computerNews / TechnologyBy Viewpoints | December 22, 2014Share This article was originally published on I don’t have to tell you because you already know: competition in the travel industry is high and choices are plentiful. Winning customer experiences can make or break a hotel.NB: This is a viewpoint By Peg McGregor, CEO, Technovation Solutions.What will set your property apart from the rest? What will prevent your customers from defecting to the competition? One of the best ways to create quality guest experiences is to stay on top of leading technology trends.Technology is constantly changing and the pace of innovation is rapidly accelerating.For example, it took landline telephones about 45 years to get from 5 percent to 50 percent penetration among U.S. households, while mobile phones took around seven years to reach a similar proportion of consumers.Smartphones have gone from 5% to 40% in about four years, despite a recession. Hotels are already creating mobile apps, allowing guests to check in with smartphone room keys and adapting to Google Glass. What technology innovations will be next?I predict that the next big travel technology trend will be ubiquitous computing.Sometimes referred to as "pervasive computing," ubiquitous computing allows a computer to appear anywhere and everywhere, on any device, in any location and in any format. Processing power will be implanted in nearly everything, meaning that humans and electronics will interact in more natural ways than we do now.Imagine the possibilities when your guests can use the window as a whiteboard, the desk to schedule meetings and the wall to watch television or movies.Think about it like this: mobility allows your guests to connect no matter where they are. Ubiquitous computing lets their surroundings connect with them. Mobility moved the computer into our pockets and ubiquitous computing will take it out again, placing the computer wherever your guests want it.Ubiquitous computing works in conjunction with a concept called ambient intelligence.Ambient intelligence allows devices to support people in carrying out their everyday activities while using information that is hidden in the network connecting these devices.The Internet of Things is what makes ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence possible. A few years ago, Microsoft released a video revealing their future vision for 2020. The video shows how computing becomes part of people’s natural environment in a undisruptive way, demonstrating the concept of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence to a tee.I believe this technology will be mainstream in the next few years. Companies like Microsoft and NEC are already leading the charge.For example, earlier this year, Microsoft Research released the SurroundWeb prototype, which projects screens from a computer on any surface; including videos, maps, documents, photos, browser tabs and more. The system utilizes tiny projectors and sensors to scan the layout of a room, including furniture, objects and people, to make sure the web pages aren't distorted.It will be the beginning of a new era when ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence become mainstream.Not only will ubiquitous computing improve hotel customer experiences and interactions, but ambient intelligence will give us the chance to collect and analyze data in real time. It may all sound a little Jetsons-esque, but this type of innovation is right around the corner. More than 90 percent of young people in developed countries are digital natives, according to a recent study.More and more hotel guests live in a connected world and expect to stay connected. They have multiple devices, favor seamless transfer of data and are willing to share a great amount of personal information. With future IT plans in mind, hoteliers need to be prepared for this world – it’ll be here sooner than you think.NB: This is a viewpoint By Peg McGregor, CEO, Technovation Solutions.NB2: Tablet hotel image courtesy Shutterstock.