STOCKHOLM — Visitors to a Stockholm hotel will be able to use mobile phones instead of keys to unlock the doors to their rooms.
Assa Abloy AB, the world's largest maker of door locks, has launched a pilot in which Clarion Hotel Stockholm will lend customers mobile phones with close-range radio chips, much like devices used for contact-less payments at gas stations.
Repeat visitors during a four-month trial will be able to check in through their phones before arrival and have their phones activated as "keys." They will then be able to skip the registration desk and unlock the door by holding the phone next to it.
The short-range radio technology, known as Near Field Communication, is expected to be built into smart phones in the coming years. It is also envisioned for ticketing and card payments. Assa Abloy says it wanted to test the system before expanding it to other hotels, commercial buildings and homes.
Greger Johansson, a telecommunications analyst at research firm Redeye, said NFC is a hot technology in the mobile phone market. But he said few models have incorporated it so far and it will take "several years" before it becomes widely used.
"It's not just a matter of incorporating the technology into the phones," he said. "You need someone who can read it too. There are quite a few players involved so it will take a while until it works well."
The head of Assa Abloy's mobile keys division, Daniel Berg, acknowledged that participants in the trial may find it cumbersome to have an extra mobile phone.
But once people have the technology in their own phones, he said, it will save them time at check-in and improve security because the access credentials in a lost phone can be revoked remotely.
He said the phone technology works with existing radio-enabled locks, so hotels can continue giving key cards to visitors who don't have the new technology in their phones.