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January 28, 2012

Evolving into the Ice Age

hilton evolve.png

This, I kid you not, is the "control" panel in my room at the Inn at Penn here in Philadelphia.

I'm sorry the pictures here are a bit blurred, but I'm not in tip top shape. What happened is that I woke up a 3am gasping for air - only to discover that that you can't open the window. You can stare at a curtain-rail-that-is-not-a-curtain-rail (below) - but doing that does not increase the supply of oxygen


Ok, I thought, so I can't have air - what about water? I strode purposefully to bathroom to turn on the


hilton bathroom panel.png

Now in pre-modern times, there would have been an on-off switch on the wall by the door. But these being Evolved times, I had to fumble around inside the (dark) bathroom in order to locate this second control panel. It's conveniently located just below groin height right next to the electrical socket; you turn on the light by sticking your finger onto one of the buttons....

I stared for some time at the menu of options. The first item on the menu is "Vanity". I have enough of that already, so I settled for item 4, "On".

They say that dehydration contributes to dementia, so my judgment may by now have been impaired. But I decided to go online and catch up on my mail.

Bad. Idea.

hilton connect kit.png

Now I'm not easily rattled, but by this time I needed coffee. So I decided to call room service using the iPad interface. (Yes, I know, the words "He" "Never" and "Learns" spring to mind). Anyway, instead of a cup-of-coffee icon I could press, this nightmare geezer appeared.

hilton ipad.png

He babbled on about my "Interactive Customer Experience" - or ICE, as it's called. "To begin your experience, touch the screen" he then said. Now I'm not sure that my forceful motoric action at this point was strictly-speaking a 'touch' - but it did the trick: My nemesis disappeared.

A rational response to this tech insanity would have been for me run naked down to reception and start screaming at the duty manager. What in fact happened was a kind of high-tech Stockholm Syndrome. I stared stare at "Evolve > Off" and wondered when it was, exactly, that *I* had gone mad.

Posted by John Thackara at January 28, 2012 10:23 AM