With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE and Near Field Communication (NFC) capability, it turns out to be quite a lot. In a closed environment, where the number of people is limited and the identity of each is known, such as a cruise ship, a person with a unique digital identification number will have their stateroom door unlocked for them as they approach, locate companions throughout the ship, purchase items, either locally or order food or beverages and have the items delivered to them no matter where they are, print current charges at a kiosk and more. This is currently a technique used by Princess Cruises in its MedallionClass cruise ships.
Carried by each passenger, the Ocean Medallion personal identifier can be part of a wristband, pendant, clip or even kept it in a pocket or bag. Michael Fillies, an Ocean Hospitality Officer from South Africa, says, “The Medallion does not have any personal information on it.” The Medallion just transmits a unique digital ID number and the owner’s onboard security picture. It conveys that number to the ship’s secure network and the person’s data, including current charges, is encrypted behind the firewall. If the picture does not match the person making a purchase, purchases cannot be made.
With software, such as Ocean Now, Ocean Compass, Ocean Concierge, Ocean View, Ocean Play and Ocean Casino, a cellphone displays the various capabilities of the personalized experience. However, large monitors in public areas around the ship allow access to many of these features as well.
On a large ship, such as the Royal Princess, there can be over 3,600 Medallions, one for each passenger and some selected members of the crew with thousands of readers located around the ship. According to Fillies, there are location sensors every couple of meters in public areas. In a stateroom, there is a sensor in the bedroom and one in the bathroom.
In addition to capabilities already mentioned, other existing features include much easier check-in to the cruise and easier embarkation and disembarkation as well as interactive gaming and custom entertainment. One of the subtle benefits is significantly improved Wi-Fi access throughout the ship.
In the future, even more features will be available to passengers on MedallionClass cruise ships.