As anyone who's ever fiddled with the settings on a camera can attest, lighting alone can make a room look fresh and new. This is especially pertinent when a guest space needs sprucing up, but there's no room in the budget or calendar for a refurbishment project. One of the other newest ways to take interiors to the next level is internet-of-things (IoT) connectivity: hooking up lights and other electrical devices to a smart system that can adapt the look of a space at the touch of a few buttons.
Changing light fixtures presents some of the same constraints as refurbishing the space, but, according to Alfred Batet, global manager of digital strategic business at Simon, there's no need to get rid of existing fittings. Adding value to guest rooms and shared spaces starts at the electrical socket.
Simon is a Spanish manufacturer specialising in smart sockets and switches, allowing customer-facing staff to quickly and easily control everything from lights to blinds and air conditioning. Sense, its customisable control panel, is a keypad with thousands of possible combinations to adapt a room for any situation: changes of season, fluctuations in reception traffic, welcoming a guest to their room or sending them to sleep at night, large seminars with a digital projector or small meetings using just half the space. The operator chooses how to configure their switches, using simple graphics to identify each function.
"I would say about 80% of our hotel customers are looking to differentiate and diversify their brand perception," Batet says. "One of the big things for them when a refurbishment or an update of the rooms takes place is cost and time, so Simon is increasing the functionality and aesthetics in a more affordable way."
Other Simon products in this vein include Scena, for in-depth lighting functionality, and Maxlon, which optimises the installation process and keeps rooms energyefficient with motion detectors, timers, dimmer switches, and photosensitive cells to adjust lighting in line with ambient natural light.
Batet's focus now is on a new in-house app that takes the centralised smart sockets into the digital realm. It integrates with the new Simon 100, introducing a new interface concept empowering user-friendly experience.
"Hotels are not going for the most complex solutions," he says. "They just want to create controls from a central point [with] very basic functions, but they want it today."
The app user first adds all the connected devices they want to control, including where they are in the building. Then they can put together a chain of commands to create an automatically triggered 'experience'.
"For instance, [there's] our wake-up experience," Batet says. "You can tell the app what time you want to wake every day. The next step is, in your bedroom you have a light; you have a remote blind control and a coffee machine. You add these three devices to this experience and you activate it - that's three simple steps. [The] next day, your room brings up your lights, raises your blinds and starts the coffee machine."
Batet's vision for the app is for staff to be at the controls, setting up a room according to a guest's wishes. He hopes it will be especially convenient for brands with a youthful, modern aesthetic.
"We have hospitality customers that are more [technologically oriented] as a brand and now they want to digitalise absolutely everything, incorporating all their digital devices. So you can establish something specific and small, and then you can expand according to your needs," he explains.
At the moment, the app is available on Android and iOS, mainly for residential users, who find that a 'smart' home makes their property values jump. Batet hopes to bring it to the hotel market next year. "The world is changing every day, so fast, and it's intelligent for that reason - because the new digital era is very dynamic, but it's a fascinating moment," he says.