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More From The Magazine
Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award Student Winner
A group from Harrington College of Design in Chicago has concepted Hotel15, where social networking comes to life.

By Stacy Shoemaker Rauen

Each year, the judges of the John Hardy Group- and Hospitality Design magazine-sponsored Radical Innovation in Hospitality Award competition pick a student winner. This year's was a group from Harrington College of Design in Chicago, and their entry was Hotel15.

"Hotel15 provides a place where people can live out their fantasies of becoming fragments of popular culture while embedding themselves into a greater community network of like-minded individuals," the entry states. Think of Facebook in reality.

The rooms and public spaces of the hotel become the stage for guests and members. They have the option of activating a live video stream of themselves to be placed on the hotel website. Online participants can view the activity of the hotel and interact through video chat. The live streaming videos are distorted and projected on LCD screens that are incorporated into the curtain walls. Each area of the hotel also displays screens that show live footage of other public areas. And the hotel and website create online databases that keep record of friends, interests, occupations, and preferences (food and drink, room) in an effort to up the ante on customer service.

Says Aleksandra Furman, who worked on the project with Manuel Navarro and Ryan Ross, all master's of interior design students: "The idea behind Hotel15 came to me over drinks with friends. We were discussing society's obsession with different forms of social media such as Facebook, Foursquare, and Chatroulette, and YouTube. I think the core customer of Hotel15 is someone that is willing to give up privacy for attention. Right now, the idea seems a bit shocking and voyeuristic, but I believe that in a few years this will be the norm."

Expect open layouts in guestrooms and public spaces. "Laying out the room as if it were a stage is key. Since the basic principle of the hotel can be applied to any setting, it's more important that the cameras have access to every area of the room, and that the lighting is even and flattering," she says, adding that she says Hotel15 is perfect for urban settings, and sees them as only having 150 rooms max. And for more interaction, the Bar15 iPhone app (for the hotel's bar) takes Match.com and makes it real. Every guest that enters the bar has their ID scanned. The scanner automatically creates an online profile that is linked up with the general hotel network and the guest has the option of editing his/her profile and linking it other social networking sites. Others can browse bar patrons based on age, gender, Facebook interests, mutual friends, etc.

Worried about some privacy? The cameras in the private rooms have the option of being turned on and off by guests; as each viewer tunes in, their web image gets live-streamed onto an LCD screen in the room they are viewing, so there is no hiding; all footage is monitored by the Hotel15 staff; and there is strict security.





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