iPhone Replaces Hotel Room Keys in New Pilot Program

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is implementing a new pilot program that will see two key hotel locations in Manhattan and Silicon Valley allowing guests to enter their rooms with their smartphones, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After installing the Starwood Preferred Guest (SGP) App, guests will receive a virtual key on their iPhone, which can then be used to unlock a door with a tap using Bluetooth 4.0. The newer Bluetooth specification, first introduced with the iPhone 4s, has been used in a similar way for many home locking products like the Lockitron and the August Smart Lock, but this is the first time it's being used on a larger scale.


Starwood officials are betting that the technology will become the standard for hotels in the future, replacing traditional hotel check-in methods.

"We believe this will become the new standard for how people will want to enter a hotel," says Frits van Paasschen, Starwood's CEO. "It may be a novelty at first, but we think it will become table stakes for managing a hotel."

Bluetooth 4.0 (or Bluetooth LE) is being utilized in a number of innovative ways. In addition to being installed in multiple different home locking products, it has also been used to replace traditional password logins on Macs through the Knock app and to deliver car diagnostics in the Automatic connected car device. Bluetooth 4.0 is also the driving technology behind Apple's iBeacons, which are rapidly being implemented in retail stores and other locations across the world to deliver location-based notifications.

Two Starwood Aloft hotels, in Harlem, New York and Cupertino, California, will be updated with the Bluetooth 4.0 technology during the first quarter of 2014. Starwood has plans to roll out the system at all of its locations by the end of 2015 should the pilot program be successful.

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Top Rated Comments

jc1350 Avatar
136 months ago
This is neat, but there are times where a plastic (waterproof) card key would still be "better." Great Wolf Lodge for example. But for general hotel use, this is very cool.

My family went to Walt Disney World this past summer and we used the new MagicBands. Very neat. Waterproof RFID that was room key, park ticket, and room charge card all in one. NO worries about leaving an unattended card or phone by the pool and such. It was also convenient in that we didn't have to fumble through pockets and bags looking for keys, tickets, etc.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
136 months ago
More than waterproof... what if your cellphone is out of charge and nearest charger is IN your room O_O

What if you forgot your key in the room and locked yourself out.

Both problems have the same low-tech solution which involves walking to the reception :D
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
136 months ago
This is fun and all but eventually wearable tech is going to take over this job from smartphones. In fact, isn't the Disney thing mentioned above already a bracelet?

THIS is where the iWatch will be interesting...not emails on your wrist.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Menel Avatar
136 months ago
Running android? Good luck getting into your room! Seems like a hotel apple would own!

Did you read the article?

"The company says the iPhone 4s or newer models and the Android phones running 4.3 or newer will be compatible"

This is what I really dislike about some Apple sites when they report about iPhone news: it always seem to read as if it’s an iOS/iPhone exclusive feature/app when it’s also available for Android.

My impression is that MacRumors and TouchArcade are particularly fond of replacing the word “smartphone” with “iPhone”.

From Google.

Version Codename API Distribution
2.2 Froyo 8 1.3%
2.3.3 -
2.3.7 Gingerbread 10 21.2%
3.2 Honeycomb 13 0.1%
4.0.3 -
4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich 15 16.9%
4.1.x Jelly Bean 16 35.9%
4.2.x 17 15.4%
4.3 18 7.8%
4.4 KitKat 19 1.4%

Only 9.2% of Android users are on 4.3 or higher.

Considering such a small minority of Android users are using up-to-date devices + this being a MacRumors site. I think it's A-OK to exclude Android.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ZOZO Avatar
136 months ago
Still can't find any Bluetooth LE keyboards. Imagine the battery life! I've been dreaming of one for some time now...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Z400Racer37 Avatar
136 months ago
SO COOL with the hand twist hahaha. :D
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)