BarTech: Hi-Tech MiniBars
We just got here at Singapore for tomorrow’s Nokia Connection 2011 and Communicasia on Wednesday and we’re staying at the newly-constructed Marina Bay Sands.
And it’s in our room where I encountered this BarTech Automatic Minibars. Form the outside, it just looks like any ordinary mini-ref you find in hotel rooms.
The BarTech detects any items removed in the minibar and automatically charges your tab when you checked-out. It’s like saying — you touch it, you bought it.
This probably minimizes the check-out process of the hotel and eliminates the need to do manual inventory. There’s also the usual item replacements M.O. a lot hotel guests frequently do — consume an item in the minibar and buys a similar item outside to replace the item in the minibar.
BarTech uses relatively several simple technology to power the minibar — a micro-switch the detects if an item has been lifted from its slot, a magnetic sensor that detects changes in magnetism of items laid out on a tray (like wines and bottled drinks), and an infra-red sensor that detects if an item has been removed from its line-of-sight.
The BarTech is then connected to the network via LAN cable or WiFi. The system is then managed by a web-based system that tracks and collates all activities of the minibars.
Pretty neat and expensive solution for a seemingly simple problem.