Technology isn't something you typically find when you're in the middle of nowhere. And when we say nowhere, we're talking about the middle of the ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest shore.
That's what makes Carnival Corporation's new Regal Princess cruise ship so remarkable. Known as the most "high-tech" cruise ship ever built, the Regal Princess is completely transforming the cruise experience.
Boasting 7,000 sensors, 650 wall-mounted touchscreens, over hundreds of Wi-Fi access points, private digital displays in each room, over 75 miles of colored cable, three massive antennas, and even the Ocean Medallion wearable for each passenger, this ship is capable of doing more than just cruising. It will make you rethink what's possible while out on the open water.
The primary key to the customer experience lies in the coin-sized wearable called Ocean Medallion. Upon boarding, each passenger is given one of these medallions, which serves as their room key, and can even tell the staff if you're celebrating a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or preferences for what drinks you like to order. Ocean Medallion can also monitor your kids' whereabouts and serve as your authentication while you book excursions, or make reservations at one of the restaurants.
While relaxing in your room, Ocean Medallion will sync with the Compass app to display announcements, or even control the media system. With no passwords or logins required to pull up the information you need at the drop of a hat, the Medallion is meant to make your entire experience seamless. Everything from navigating the ship to accessing your room or pausing the movie that's playing, can all take place without the hassle of switching to a different application.
Sharing a room? No problem! Each passenger gets their own Medallion and can even choose their own avatar. These avatars will appear on the touch screens as you move around the ship, so you'll always have access to your own personal profile.
Making the system work meant installing an extremely capable and secure network for data. One of the downsides to this personalized approach is that the cruise line collects a lot of data about each passenger. This information is typically gathered from surveys customers take before they board. Information is also logged from your stay, giving the system more information regarding the activities you prefer and amenities you enjoy.
Worried about who might be seeing your personal information, and for what? Carnival officials are reassuring customers that offering your information is completely optional. "It is the guest's choice to share the data," said John Padgett, Chief Experience and Innovation Officer. "It's an affirmative decision if you want it to be used for marketing." And for those guests who do decide to share this information, they can rest assured that Carnival won't sell it off to other companies and that it will only be used to continue the improvement of their cruise experiences.
The Medallion itself doesn't store any of this private information, so you won't have to worry about what might happen if you were to lose the gadget while on board. The actual data is stored in the ship's data centers, with which the chip communicates.
What about the internet, you ask? How is it possible to get Wi-Fi out on the open seas? The answer to that question lies within the ship's three satellite antennas. No matter where the ship travels, the multi-band antennas provide the best bandwidth possible and that the ship's fiber-optic cabling ensures that none of that speed is lost.
Of course, all of this web-connected technology could present its own set of problems. We've warned you about how car thieves can steal your car by intercepting the signal passed between your car and key fob. Could hackers find a way to tap into the Ocean Medallion, steal your data or even break into your room?
The technology is so new, this possibility has not yet been explored. For now, Carnival plans to continue the expansion and improvement of the system. Some ideas that have been discussed include using the Medallion to control room temperature settings to save on fuel costs and even attaching a CO2 sensor that could warn passengers of any leaks.
Overall, it looks like the hospitality industry is in for some major upgrades during the next decade. If you think the Regal Princess is showing off some high-tech, just wait until you see what hotels of the future will look like.
Note: Images courtesy of Carnival Regal Princess. If you're viewing this article in the Komando App, click here to see the photos.