Hotel industry tests e-textile flooring

Joe Thompson - 28 Aug 2009

Germany-based technology company Future-Shape is working with research institute Fraunhofer IAO to develop smart textile flooring for the hotel industry.

Future-Shape's Sensefloor technology
Future-Shape's Sensefloor is an underlay, which can be placed underneath rugs, mats and carpets, to monitor a person's steps and movements.

The company is using its patented sensor and printed interconnect technology to develop Sensefloor into a wireless safety device and is targeting the global hotel industry through a private development project called FutureHotel, coordinated by Fraunhofer IAO.

FutureHotel's partners include two of Germany's leading hotel and leisure brands, Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, a luxury business chain and Lindner Hotels, a four-star leisure services company. FutureHotel will let them explore new services and management benefits enabled by new technologies.

The sensors embedded in the underlay react instantly to pressure or touch and could be a deployed in several applications by hotel operators. For instance, if a guest informs the hotel of an illness or a condition SenseFloor can be placed at the foot of their bed so that if a guest falls out of bed or trips over, the mat can alert reception staff or a member of their family to the incident. The technology could also be used in hotel evacuations during emergencies by counting guests and staff leaving building exits.

Other applications include monitoring staff attendance and checking whether cleaning staff have serviced rooms, or parts of the hallway or communal areas.

Vanessa Borkmann, project manager of FutureHotel, is confident hotel operators will incorporate SenseFloor in the next 4-5 years. 'You don't have to limit its use to the floor. Future-Shape has developed an underlay that can also be integrated in walls and furniture, if that is what the customer wants.'

Other members of FutureHotel include Philips Lighting in Germany; Villeroy and Boch, a leading ceramics brand; software developer Portel; wellness and spa design company Klaff; Hotel Reservation Service (HRS), an online accommodation booking firm; Lava, an award-winning architectural design company; and domestic tools supplier Hansa.

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