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Your selfie might soon be the key to your hotel room


Millennials and other tech-savvy tourists will soon be able to use their selfies to check into some hotels in Singapore.

A sandbox to allow the testing of a mobile application that uses facial recognition to do away with paperwork will be on trial from this month to December at the Grand Park City Hall hotel, said the Singapore Tourism Board yesterday.

The facial recognition technology, developed by artificial intelligence solutions firm GTRIIP, is expected to shorten the time taken for guests to check-in and allow hotel employees to “focus on higher value-added tasks”, said Ong Huey Hong, STB’s director of hotels and sector manpower.

A spokesperson for Grand Park City Hall said the app serves as a “pocket concierge” by allowing guests to skip the process of queuing and waiting at the hotel lobby to be issued physical key cards to their rooms.

Users only need to upload a photo of their passports, key in their credit card details — which will be authenticated by a one-time password — and take a photo of themselves, said a representative from GTRIIP at Tourism Industry Conference 2018. They will be registered once the details have been verified by the hotel.

The Grand Park City Hall spokesperson said it has been testing the app — which bears the same name as GTRIIP — since May last year.

The hotel is working with GTRIIP and the authorities on the facial recognition function of the app, and only expects the final version to be ready in the third quarter of this year.

In the meantime, guests may use the app to enter their rooms and control the lights, air-conditioner and television in the rooms.

TODAY understands Amara Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel will begin using the app by the third quarter of this year.

The idea came about during discussions with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and is part of a regulatory sandbox created by the STB and Ministry of Home Affairs to test-bed new technologies, said Quek Choon Yang, STB’s chief technology officer.

The authorities will be able to study if it is feasible to relax existing rules and allow all hotels in Singapore to adopt the facial recognition system as a means for guests to check-in.

The conference featured other technologies being used by tourism players to boost productivity.

The Tourism Information and Services Hub, for example, serves as a directory of sorts for registered businesses, which will be able to list their promotions or offerings and view what other companies are doing.

And to help guide its decisions, the STB is analysing data such as visitor arrivals, spending and movement patterns on a new Singapore Tourism Analytics Network. STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said the network will eventually be available to industry players.