New app for Galaxy S3 offers end-to-end hotel services to Olympic guests

Samsung has partnered with the new Holiday Inn at Stratford City to offer a full spectrum hospitality solution in time for the London 2012 Olympics, the first time a suite of hotel services has been offered via smartphone outside of Asia.

Working with Fingi Inc., Samsung has developed a customisable Android app that acts as a key card and in-room control, capable of manipulating the TV, lighting, and air conditioning on top of giving you access to your accommodation. It can also handle check-in/out and access hotel services like room service and laundry requests.

The scalable software will run on the company's flagship Galaxy S3 smartphone (which is also the official smartphone of the Games) and can be deployed as an in-room phone extension. It will also provide users with localised content, in the case of the Holiday Inn London Stratford City - located a discus' throw away from the Olympic Park - information and content pertaining to London 2012.

Bumcoo Cho, Samsung's senior vice president of its Enterprise & Mobile Communications Division, ventured that the hospitality solution was a natural guest experience optimisation.

"As a hotel visitor, you not only expect to have all the services you need at your fingertips, but you want to be able to take full advantage of them in a way that is effortless, simple, and intuitively smart," he said.

"The project with fellow London 2012 Olympic Games partner Holiday Inn allows us both to bring to life our Olympic Games experience in a way that has never been seen before," Mr Cho added.

The service will initially be made available to VIPs staying at the Holiday Inn and see 40 rooms equipped to begin with.

However, despite Samsung's commitment to "leave a lasting legacy in the market for the hospitality industry and consumers," there will be a number of security hurdles to navigate if the Olympic pilot is to be the start of a wider rollout.

As recent events show, the technology surrounding hotel key card security is far from water-tight. Earlier this week, a security researcher revealed that he had built a homemade contraption that mimicked master key cards and had the potential to gain access to any room with Onity brand locks, which guard some 10 million hotel rooms across the globe.

Mozilla software developer Cody Brocious demonstrated the open-source hardware gadget at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, with his £30 hand-built hacking toy enjoying a 33 per cent success rate in demonstration, revealing serious flaws in Onity's security architecture.

Moreover, Android phones and the apps that run on them are thought to be highly vulnerable to breaches. While Samsung and Holiday Inn are likely to be implementing stringent security measures from both ends, it's unlikely to stop hackers trying to crack the software if it becomes more widely available, though Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is thought to be Google's most secure OS to date.