As part of a pilot program, two hotels owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts will soon start allowing people to unlock their rooms using smartphones as room keys. The hotels are part of the Aloft chain, and based in Manhattan, New York and Cupertino, California. Guests will need at least an iPhone 4S or a phone running Android 4.3 or better.
To actually unlock a room, guests will need
a special Starwood app capable of receiving a virtual "key." The app will then communicate with a lock via Bluetooth, unlocking after a tap or twist gesture. Starwood is planning to launch the pilot before the end of March.
The company adds that it's hoping to introduce virtual keys to all its W and Aloft hotels by the end of 2015. It notes that the locks are battery-operated, and so shouldn't be affected if a hotel's computer backbone goes down. Hotel staff should be alerted as lock batteries run low.