As technology and interior design become evermore interlinked, Jason Ng, marketing communications specialist at MK Electric, explores the use of touch technology in hotels.

One of the most widely adopted technology innovations in recent years has been the use of touch technology. From smartphones to tablets, hobs to microwaves, TVs to stereos, touch is becoming the dominant way of interacting with products and services. In a few short years this innovative user interface went from simply printing a boarding pass at an airport check-in desk to a new way of interacting with devices.

The hospitality industry – so often ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in domestic interior fashions – has also been quick to incorporate touch-screens and tablets in guest rooms and public spaces. Often employed to control entertainment facilities and environmental controls in guest rooms, self check-in is also becoming more common with intuitive touch-screen terminals.

Market research into young consumers aged 18-34 – a key sector in predicting technology trends – revealed that 97% found touch-screen technology convenient, 96% said that touchscreens made their lives easier, and nine in 10 of those surveyed said touchscreens save time.

Data shows that the sort of users that scan the internet, looking for reviews of the latest iteration of the iPhone and want to play their music collection on cordless speakers using Bluetooth, will increasingly demand this technological upgrade from their home, to their workplace and their hotel. Think young, up-and-coming executives and affluent honeymooners.

The lesson is clear – touch is no longer viewed as a rather prosaic way of operating a system. Instead it is something your guests will increasingly expect from your hotel.

There are four main touch technologies available to hoteliers – infra-red, surface acoustic wave, resistive and capacitive. MK Electric chose capacitive touch because it is both highly sensitive and durable, and so more suitable for devices that are in daily use. This technology is also very user friendly because, technically, it has an excellent drag performance with an extremely smooth surface – in other words it can produce very subtle changes at a stroke.

For example, dimmers and switches in MK Electric’s Elements Collection – a range of stylish, design-led, and aesthetically striking electrical devices launched last month – are operated simply by swiping across the touch interface. This puts them into the same category as highly-sophisticated smartphones and laptops where users simply pinch and zoom to magnify or minimise objects on the screen.

This sophistication does not compromise the reliability or integrity of the devices – they are just as robust as the more basic designs that have been tried and trusted for so many years. It is just the way that guests use them that has been brought into line with the most modern of contemporary digital devices, devices that did not even exist less than 10 years ago.

About MK Electric
A subsidiary of global technology specialist, Honeywell, MK Electric is one of the UK’s leading wiring devices and accessories manufacturers. Based in Basildon, Essex, the company is known for its innovative approach to product design.