Hotels of the future: self-darkening windows and zero-gravity beds

Ruth Doherty

Travel experts at an exhibition in Sydney have been showing off the technology of tomorrow's hotel rooms.

Self-darkening windows, zero-gravity beds and mobile phone check-in and room keys are just a few of the new developments.

But these ideas aren't just way-off pie in the sky: prototype touchscreen coffee tables that allow guests to play music and videos, and look up information about their location have already been developed.

And three new applications enabling you to order room service and make special requests to the front desk have already been released.

Other hotelier plans include inventing self-cleaning bathroom tiles, with a special anti-bacterial layer for extra hygiene, and toilets that lift the lid as soon as they detect a person nearby, and then flush and close when you leave.

We particularly love the iGlass development: windows that allow you to change them from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button.

And then there's the zero-gravity bed, which is said to make you feel weightless while giving you a massage.

But beware - as well as improving customer service, hoteliers will also improve the way they can monitor what you do in your room.

Minibars are set to have sensors that detect when a drink has been taken, and automatically adds it to your bill.

You'll get a certain amount of time to put it back if you change your mind, though.

Some of these ideas are already being put into practice at hotels around the world. Guests at some chains can use apps on their mobile phones to check in and open their room doors, meaning they don't have to carry a key - and get to avoid infuriating queues at the reception desk.

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