CruiseStateroom doors may very soon be opened by your face instead of a card or app.

Royal Caribbean's smart doors sailing right up

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"The human face is an always-on 'wearable' and should see a universal rate of adoption" as compared to relying on passengers to wear wearable devices all day long, says Angie Stephen, Vice President & Managing Director, Asia Pacific.
"The human face is an always-on 'wearable' and should see a universal rate of adoption" as compared to relying on passengers to wear wearable devices all day long, says Angie Stephen, Vice President & Managing Director, Asia Pacific. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Zephyr18

With the acceleration and adoption of touch-less technology in a post-pandemic world, Royal Caribbean Group is now looking at extending its existing face recognition software during boarding — to onboard for unlocking stateroom doors next.

The new proposal to the United States Patent and Trademark Office is for a 'multifunction smart door device' that would open based on either facial recognition, or wireless credentials.

On the premise of providing guests "greater convenience, comfort and efficiency", a practical question Royal Caribbean considered was: Are passengers willing to adopt and wear wearable devices all day long, if that's the only way for that to be "truly useful"?

"Comparatively, the human face is an always-on 'wearable' and should see a universal rate of adoption," says Angie Stephen, Vice President & Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.

Currently, Royal Caribbean passengers open their doors using a SeaPass card, or via the app on newer ships. Select ships — including Quantum of the Seas — also feature WOW Bands, which can unlock doors.

Looking at the bigger picture, Stephen added that the device will also perform other functions, "such as controlling stateroom personalisation features, allowing controlled access for authorised crew members, accommodating remote unlocking, and providing notifications — all of which will allow for an even more customised, secure and enjoyable experience for our cruisers".

For safety reasons, a video will capture footage of the public area adjacent to these smart doors, which guests will be able to view on live stream on their smartphones.

Guests aboard the Sky Princess can use the medallion app, on top of wearing the ocean medallion.
Guests aboard the Sky Princess can use the medallion app, on top of wearing the ocean medallion. Photo Credit: Princess Cruises

Such smart technology isn't new.

MSC for Me was launched in 2017, a digital guest experience programme displayed ship wide on touchscreens around the ship, the In-Cabin Smart TV and as an app on phones. Among the myriad features such as texting fellow sailing family or friends via the app, a virtual personal cruise assistant, keyless stateroom unlocking is included as well.

In 2019, Carnival Cruises unveiled the Sky Princess, its first ship built to accommodate the company's OceanMedallion: a technology guests can wear as a bracelet, necklace or in their pockets to perform various tasks. One of which, is unlocking a stateroom door when guests approach.

What a smart door system like Royal Caribbean's would do, is omit pre-boarding procedures needed for such medallions to work; since the current procedure is that weeks before sailing, guests need to head online to upload personal information, and download apps for use onboard.

Smart doors will also save costs, since in the case of Royal Caribbean, guests who wish to use a WOW band instead of their SeaPass card have to pay for one at US$4.99.

Guests who book Golden Suites & Royal Premiere rooms for Spectrum of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas can skip this charge, although these bands are not reusable.



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