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Airport Security

How Covid-19 Has Changed The Way We Go Through Airport Security

The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the entire world and the multitude of industries that run it. One of the biggest industries that has been impacted internationally by the virus has been the travel/tourism industry. Obviously a virus that spreads through close contact in public spaces would disrupt the businesses that make their money from hundreds of strangers coming in close proximity with one another, however, now that the world has been enduring this pandemic for eight months, the industry has adjusted to better accommodate for the new normal we’re all living in. 

Specifically the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in airports have taken on a whole list of health and safety procedure protocols to protect themselves and passengers from contracting the virus as they pass through airport security checkpoints. 

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Obviously travelling seems like it should be out of the question for anyone in the middle of a global health crisis involving a virus that spreads easily, however, as America has proven if there’s an opportunity to do things normally, people are going to jump on that opportunity, especially when flights are the cheapest they’ve been in years. 

When travelers first enter the airport they’ll notice a difference in experience almost immediately. Individuals are prompted to scan their own boarding passes when they first enter the TSA area of the airport. They’re prompted to do this at every checkpoint throughout the airport, this way TSA workers don’t have to be handed thousands of passes during a given day and can reduce the risk of cross-contamination. 

In a pre-pandemic context, one of the biggest discrepancies all airport travelers could agree on was the limited amount of liquids you’re able to take with you on a plane. However, now that we’re living in a time where hand sanitizer is everyone’s best friend, airlines are allowing travelers to pack sanitizer in containers up to 12 ounces. The hand sanitizer just needs to be removed from the luggage so that it can pass through a separate X-ray screening; this is to ensure the liquid is actually sanitizer. 

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Other liquids still must be less than 3.4 fluid ounces and passengers need to be adamant about checking to make sure all liquids and aerosols meet those requirements. If not, the passengers themselves will need to remove the item to prevent cross-contamination which will just take up even more time, so be extra careful when packing any liquids or aerosols that aren’t hand sanitizer. 

Since many individuals are opting not to buy any food or drinks at the airports, TSA is allowing for any meals or snacks that one wants to take through security to go through as long as it’s removed from the luggage and in a clear plastic bag placed in a separate tray. This small measure has already been thought to decrease the possibility of cross-contamination greatly. 

TSA agents have also been installing acrylic barriers in all major airports around the country. These barriers are specifically designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 between travelers and TSA agents. They’re being placed at all TSA podiums, X-Ray areas, secondary search areas, and checked baggage drop-off locations. 

The TSA has also begun testing out self-service facial recognition technology that can immediately verify a passengers identity. The technology is currently being tested at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport where passengers are prompted to scan their own ID’s so that the machine can verify their identity and boarding information. If the technology proves to be successful in the coming weeks it will likely be implemented in all major airports throughout the country.

Big Bend National Park

Some Of The Most Scenic Places To Camp In America 

As winter approaches for parts of the US, many are working on planning things to do to keep themselves occupied as the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking a road tip and going camping is pretty much the safest and easiest way to travel domestically at the moment. Especially if you live in a cooler part of the country, planning a road trip to go to one of the warmer parts of the country for an extended holiday camping trip is the best way to get your mind of the current state of the world and just relax. Here are some of the most popular scenic destinations for campers in the US:

Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York: Since we’re still in the middle of fall and the weather hasn’t gotten too severe yet there’s still time to camp in one of the cooler parts of the country to really take in the fall foliage. This state reserve is less than 100 miles from the city and is known for its breathtaking autumnal landscapes and fresh mountain air. For those living in NYC, you can either drive up for the day or camp out based on how close it is.

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Minnewaska State Park Reserve, New York

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: This park is a short drive from Washington D.C. and has over 500 miles of hiking trails. The park itself is full of lush views of forests and waterfalls, which will make anyone feel as though they’re stepping right into a National Geographic documentary. There are five campgrounds available through November operating at reduced capacity. 

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida: In this park, you can have the largest barrier reef in the US right outside of your tent. Campers can easily rent snorkel gear and spend their time on the beach exploring the wide variety of nature and wildlife Fort Jefferson has to offer. While tours of the grounds are temporarily unavailable due to Covid-19, the campgrounds themselves are still operating fully. 

Big Bend National Park, Texas: This park is the go to destination for anyone with a serious urge for an adventure. Campers can go rafting, canoeing, and Kayaking along the Rio Grande or opt to hike any of the trails that go along the park’s desert, mountain, and river landscapes. At night, campers can enjoy some of the most spectacular stargazing sights they’ve likely ever seen, and with the campgrounds operating at limited capacity, there’s no worry of being too close to anyone else. 

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Big Bend National Park, Texas

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas: Arkansas in general is known for its lush countryside foliage, but it’s often overlooked by other more mainstream destinations. However, in the Ozark National Forest visitors would be shocked to see they have nine beaches and thousands of acres worth of lakes and streams to explore. There’s a number of fully-operating campgrounds in the forest and while some recreational services are closed down, there’s still plenty of options available for those looking for an adventure. 

Badlands National Park, South Dakota: The climate in Badlands is relatively self-explanatory; it can be bad. However, if you plan it out right you’ll have a gorgeous trip where you’ll see wondrous rock formations, prairies, and even some spots to look at ancient fossils. The park offers two campgrounds, Cedar Pass, which has amenities like running water and electricity, or Sage Creek, which has no running water but is known for being the more scenic spot for wildlife spotting. 

Gunnison National Forest, Colorado: This forest has over 3,000 miles worth of hiking trails and 1.6 million acres of land available to the public. You’ll be able to see the Rocky Mountains from practically any spot and with 30 campsites to choose from, any camper would be able to find the perfect spot. Some of the facilities on the grounds are temporarily closed due to Covid, however, all the necessary services are still available.

Stargazing

Some Of The Best Places To Stargaze Around The World 

Stargazing is one of the most popular and relaxing activities universally performed across the globe. There’s nothing like sitting in a large field of grass and looking up at the star-filled sky and contemplating just how small we all truly are. All around the world there are numerous locations where the universe looks close enough to touch based on how saturated the sky can get with stars. Here’s a list of some of the most widely-known destinations to view the night sky from:

The Atacama Desert, Chile: South America in general is known for its amazing stargazing. This desert located in the northern part of Chile is the driest place on the planet; besides the North and South Poles. It receives a couple millimeters of rain every year, however, the dry conditions mixed with the high altitude, minimal clouds, and near-zero pollution makes it perfect for viewing the night sky. The Tarantula Nebula, the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, the Southern Cross, and even the Large Magellanic Cloud are all visible from the desert. For this reason, locals refer to the desert as the best place in the world for looking at the stars. 

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The Atacama Desert

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah: This national monument is located in Lake Powell, Utah, and was the first ever certified International Dark Sky Park, which is an accolade given to various areas of the world by the International Dark Sky Association, whose main goal is to combat light and air pollution worldwide. This designation advertises itself as having some of the darkest and clearest skies in the US and in the world. The biggest attraction is the “river of light” that appears at night which is created by the Milky Way’s reflection as it rises over the Owachomo Bridge. The bridge forms what looks like a clean-cut window into the night sky that “frames” the millions of stars visible with the naked eye. Locals recommend camping out under the stars for the best experience. 

Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Japan: Japan is a country that’s known for it’s natural beauty. It’s cherry blossom trees and emphasis on nature in architecture make Japan one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It’s also one of the best places for stargazing, in the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park especially, 84 out of the 88 constellations, that are recognized by the International Astronomical Union, are visible. The park is also an International Dark Sky Park.

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Mauna Kea Observatory

Mauna Kea, Hawaii: The Mauna Kea summit on the Big Island is known as the most famous stargazing spot in Hawaii. The volcanic terrain and 13,800 foot high peak gives onlookers some of the most breathtaking views of the night sky imaginable. The Mauna Kea Observatory is located at the mountains peak, allowing for individuals to really look deeper into the night sky with it’s thirteen powerful telescopes. 

Pic du Midi, France: Pic du Midi is located in the French Pyrénées mountains and is famous for being the spot where NASA scientists take photos of the surface of the moon. If that isn’t any indication for how amazing the stargazing is here then I don’t know what is. Individuals can easily take a cable car from La Mongie to the mountains summit where an observatory is located for ideal viewing. 

La Fortuna, Costa Rica: This Costa Rican jungle may not seem like an ideal place for viewing the sky, especially considering tropical jungles are typically saturated in plant life making the sky nearly invisible, however, depending on the night, locals refer to this jungle as one of the few places where the Milky Way Galaxy becomes visible at night. The jungle is located right above the equator, which means during the dry season (December – April) visitors will have ample opportunity to view the stars.

Harvest Moon Festival

How To Join In On Mid-Autumn Harvest Moon Festivals This Year

Every year the first full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is recognized as the Harvest Moon, and is widely celebrated across the world as one of the biggest lunar events of the year. The autumnal equinox in general is significant for many cultures around the world. In many Asian countries it’s believed that the full moon is the brightest during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is celebrated with a variety of customs and traditions. 

Traditionally, the Mid-autumn festival is observed in China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It’s celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in mid-September or early October. This year, the full moon is projected to occur on October 1st, here’s how some of these countries will be celebrating:

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Festival customs vary based on country, like any holiday celebration. All generally focus on family gatherings, special foods, lanterns, and offerings to the moon. In Taiwan, for example, the event is a national holiday and involves eating mooncakes and pomelo. The food traditions on this night are just as important as turkey on Thanksgiving or a ham on Christmas. 

In South Korea the celebrations last for three days to give everyone enough time to reconnect with their families and friends; normally people come back to South Korea from all over the world to celebrate the festival. In Vietnam the event is called the “Children’s Festival” and involves kids carrying lanterns while they watch traditional lion dances and enjoy some homemade mooncakes. 

Mooncakes are another generally accepted traditional element of the Mid-Autumn festival. People either give them to their loved ones as gifts, make them for family gatherings, or donate to local organizations. The cakes are meant to represent the full moon, and are traditionally filled with either bean paste, egg yolk, truffles, chocolate, or even ice cream. 

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The legend of the festival involves a hero named Hou Yi, who single handedly shot down nine of the ten suns that were overheating the earth. As a reward, the Goddess of the Heavens gave him a special elixir that would enable him to become a god himself. Hou Yi’s wife, however, was forced to drink the elixir one day after an evil man tried to steal it from them. She then flew up to the moon along with her rabbit, so in a fit of heartbreak Hou Yi placed his wife’s favorite foods on his table every year on the day of the fullest moon, hoping she would return to him. 

Now, Netflix is even getting involved in the festivities with the release of “Over the Moon,” a computer animated musical that’s based on the legend behind the festival. The musical will follow a young girl named Fei Fei, who’s coping with the loss of her mother and becomes enthused to learn about the legend of the Moon Goddess. 

Lady M is a very prominent mooncake maker and recently announced a collaboration with Netflix and Pearl Studios – the studio producing “Over the Moon” – to celebrate the film and upcoming event. The artist created a limited-edition lantern that actually glows to highlight its opulent gold and emerald accents. If you click a button the Moon goddess and other mythical creatures will appear as well. The lantern also comes with six different moon cake variations to keep with tradition.

Coronavirus-Sniffing Dogs To Start Test Program In Airports This Week 

In a new pilot program launched this past Tuesday at Finland’s Helsinki Airport, trained dogs are being used to detect if passengers are infected with the Covid-19 virus. According to a press release from the Finnish airport operator Finavia, these animals have been specifically trained to smell the coronavirus the same way that certain canines have the ability to smell cancer in individuals. 

In the release it was stated that the program was completely voluntary but encouraged for international travelers coming into Finland. If a passenger chooses to participate, they will be asked to swipe their skin using a “test wipe” that workers will then put into a cup and give to the dogs. Individuals never make contact with the dogs themselves, this way if individuals who have a canine allergy want to participate they still have the ability to. 

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The release showed a demonstrative photo of a passenger wiping the test cloth on the inside of their wrist but Anna Hielm-Björkman, a University of Helsinki researcher, claims that sweat samples will also be taken from rubbing the cloth on the back of the neck, where sweat is more likely to accumulate. 

“It’s a very promising method. Dogs are obviously very good at sniffing so if it works, it will be a good screening method for other places around the world.”

The canine companions only need 10 seconds to sniff the sample before they’re able to acknowledge if they smell Covid-19 or not. They indicate the results of the test by either laying down, paw scratching, or barking if they smell the virus, otherwise they’ll just act as if they smelt a random cloth they have no interest in.

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The whole process is meant to be quick and easy for passengers. The report claims that the entire ordeal should only take one minute, and individuals who “test positive” based on the dog’s reaction will also be asked to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to double check the results. The PCR tests are essentially the cotton swab tests that have been occurring at testing locations across the world for the past six months. 

“Dogs are also able to identify Covid-19 from a much smaller sample than the PCR tests. The difference is massive, as a dog only needs 10 to 100 molecules to identify the virus, whereas test equipment requires 18,000,000.”

The University of Helsinki initially announced their interest in using dogs to identify the coronavirus back in May, after preliminary tests showed that dogs could have the ability to identify it. Hielm-Björkman claims that her team has “solid experience in training disease-related, scent-detection dogs,” so it was amazing to see them identify a completely new virus. 

The four dogs currently deployed at the Helsinki Airport are named Miina, Kossi, ET, and Valo, all of which were trained by the company Wise Nose. These dogs have been trained for their whole lives to identify various diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and there are currently 10 others being trained to identify Covid-19 specifically. Researchers in the US have been following Finland’s suit and have also begun training scent-detecting canines to identify the virus. The Dubai International Airport was the first in the world to deploy dogs for smelling Covid-19, and after a month they reported a 92% accuracy rate. 

Fall Road Trip

8 Road Trip Ideas That Capture The Beauty Of Fall In The US

All throughout the US, many are opting to take road trips in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic putting a wedge in other travel plans. Now that autumn is officially beginning, it’s the perfect time to get in your car and start taking in some of the wondrous sites the US has to offer during this colorful and cozy season. 

Blue Ridge Mountains, Georgia: New England destinations in general are always a hot spot for fall lovers, and the Blue Ridge Mountains are no different. The stunning fall foliage will give you some of the most breathtaking landscapes you’ve ever seen, and the adjacent mountain town of Helen is known as the highest natural point in Georgia. The mountains are also right next to the town of Clayton which is known for its old school charm and slew of antique shops, galleries, wineries, and other fun activities. 

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Rhode Island: The US’s smallest state offers a wide variety of road trip excursions anyone would enjoy. One could go to the famous town of Newport and hike along the historic railroad tracks while taking in the stunning scenery and historic mansion views. During the whole month of October, the town also has a variety of Halloween themed activities and attractions, such as pumpkin patches, haunted houses, cider houses, and more. 

New York’s Finger Lakes: The finger lakes are a great destination for any New Yorker desperately seeking a break from the city. If you leave from the city, you can head through the state of Pennsylvania and stop at the  Tobyhanna state park for some stellar autumnal scenery, and natural mountain views. The finger lakes themselves also offer a variety of hiking locations to really connect you to nature.

Route 6 Pennsylvania: Speaking of Pennsylvania, Route 6 is famously known for its various road trip excursion opportunities, and the views along the route are worth the trip alone. Along the route drivers will see a multitude of signs advertising fun seasonal activities such as cider tastings, apple picking, hiking trails, and more!

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The Blue Ridge Parkway: This winding road is a quintessential road trip for anyone in the North Carolina/Virginia area, especially in the fall. It’s 470 miles and connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The route itself will pass you through various farmlands and scenic forests any fall lover would enjoy. 

Connecticut’s Covered Bridges: In the northwest corner of Connecticut there’s a 100-mile loop that passes through the Town of Falls Village where all the churches, streets, houses and railroads look exactly like they did in the 1800’s. The Appalachian Trail runs right through the town offering up some of the most scenic hiking in the country. Visitors can also pass through the West Cornwall Covered Bridge which stretches 172 feet over the Housatonic River. 

The Oregon Coast: The coast of Oregon may not have the most traditional fall foliage, however, it has its own unique scenery through its various hiking trails. Travel experts recommend visitors start in Astoria and head south so they can take advantage of all the trails and stop at some of the state’s most famous historical parks and beaches. 

Route 66: Finally, the most classic American road trip of them all would have to be the historic highway that’s been forever memorialized in pop culture; Route 66. Most experts recommend starting in Chicago and then just following the turn-by-turn directions along the way to trace the entire route. There’s plenty of signs to warn you when upcoming sight-seeing destinations are about to appear so you can stop as many times as you want along the way.

Essential Travel Items

Tourists Would Rather Cancel A Trip Than Have To Wear A Mask On Vacation

According to a recent study, the travel industry is set to take a large economic hit in the coming months as the seasons change and more tourists opt to cancel their holiday trips.

Virtual Travel

Virtual Tourism Is The Future Of The Travel Industry, Research Suggests

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia recently released a new proposal for a virtual travel experience that they claim to be the future of the travel industry. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the tourism industry to dwindle greatly, along with many other industries in the world. During a global health crisis that requires everyone to stay home in order to keep everyone safe, travel lovers are trying to get creative, and this pair thinks they have the solution. 

The proposal was published in the scientific journal, Cell Patterns by Dr. Arni Srivasa Rao, director of the medical school’s Laboratory for Theory and Mathematical Modeling, and co-author Dr. Steven Krantz, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Washington University. The proposal claims that by using the billions of existing photos and videos online of travel hotspots throughout the world, and some advanced mathematical techniques, the current internet-based tourism experience could improve tenfold. 

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According to the proposal, the two have a technique that digitally measures the shapes, angles, and curvatures of certain objects in these images, as well as determines the distance between the camera and the object itself. Using drone footage, photos, and other videos compiled from online resources, the two believe they could make virtual travel experiences “more realistic for viewers that will help revitalize the tourism industry.”

The specific technology involved in these measurements is referred to as Live Streaming with Actual Proportionality of Objects, or LAPO for short. LAPO implements what’s known as “information geometry,” which essentially refers to measuring the actual dimensions of a given object in an image, and “conformal mapping,” which uses that information geometry to measure distance between objects and create more realistic imaging of people, places, and objects. 

“This is about having a new kind of technology that uses advanced mathematical techniques to turn digitized data into more realistic photos and videos with more of a feel for the location than you would get watching a movie or documentary.”

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Rao used the example of seeing the Statue of Liberty from a boat in the Hudson River versus watching a video of it, and how those two experiences greatly differ. However, with LAPO technology, Rao and his colleagues are able to measure and preserve “multiple angles and digitize that into video form so consumers can visualize it from multiple angles.” This will make people at home feel like they’re really there. 

The two main authors really wanted to emphasize their belief in this technology’s ability to help the tourism industry remain afloat/recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. They believe virtual tourism is the future based on the fact that overall it’s simply cheaper, safer because it can be done from home, easily accessible for all, and eliminates any risks that may arise from traveling to a new area of the world. 

“Virtual tourism also creates new employment opportunities for virtual tour guides, interpreters, drone pilots, videographers and photographers, as well as those building the new equipment for virtual tourism.”

People would pay for these experiences the same way they would pay a hotel or airline to take them somewhere, however, it will be monumentally cheaper based on the fact that you’re not actually going to the location itself. Rao and Krantz claim their next step is going to be to bring in some new investors and partners in the hospitality and tourism industry.

Beach View

Best Weekend Beach Getaways In The US

While traveling throughout the past six months was likely the last thing on all of our minds, many individuals are finding ways to go on mini vacations and remain completely safe in the midst of a global health crisis. Many people are taking road trips to avoid public transportation and hitting the beaches wherever they can! Wherever you are in the country, there are plenty of amazing beach towns that can be accessed in a safe and efficient way, here are few of the most popular ones: 

The Hamptons, New York: If you’re from Long Island or New York City, you’ve likely visited the Hamptons at one point or another. East Hampton, Southampton, and Montauk are some of the most popular beach tourist destinations every summer, and thanks to a multitude of new health and safety procedures from major hotel chains and rental companies like Airbnb, people can still go and safely enjoy a beach weekend. 

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East Hampton, New York

Monterey County, California: Fans of HBO’s Big Little Lies are likely very familiar with the beauty that is Monterey Country in California. It’s known as being one of the most picturesque spots on the California coast with large and open white sandy beaches, great local dining and shopping attractions, as well as several water sport rental businesses. During your weekend getaway, be sure to take the iconic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway towards Big Sur for some of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever see. 

Saugatuck, Michigan: This beach town is about three hours from Chicago and is known as one of the most ideal destinations for Midwestern beach vacationing. Lake Michigan has a wonderful 10 mile stretch of shoreline, ensuring there’s plenty of room to social distance from any other beach goers. The surrounding area is known as the “art coast of Michigan” for its slew of galleries and small businesses. 

Outer Banks, North Carolina: The string of islands that make up the Outer Banks area of North Carolina is the perfect area for those who like water sports. It’s peaceful environment allows for isolated enjoyment, and by car it’s less than five hours away from Washington D.C.. The beaches in Outer Banks have long been known as the best beaches in North Carolina, and the local town has plenty of options for shopping, eating, and sleeping. 

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Outer Banks, North Carolina

Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Cape Cod is less than two hours from Boston, depending on traffic, and is known as a “quintessential Massachusetts beach getaway.” There are plenty of quaint little towns to walk around in and enjoy, and six major swimming beaches that are family-friendly. The beaches often offer great conditions for surfing and fishing as well. 

Florida Keys, Florida: Out of the thousands of beaches in Florida the Florida Keys take the cake as one of the most popular destinations for Floridians. The Keys are about three-and-a-half-hours from Miami, and that drive is known as the “ultimate beach road trip” by locals. If you go to Key West you can also visit the southernmost tip in the continental US. 

Tybee Island, Georgia: This island is about four hours away from Atlanta and is the perfect beach getaway for those who need a break from their busy city lives. Georgia actually has a lot of beaches, but Tybee is definitely one of the most popular destinations for the state. Back River Beach specifically is known for being a small and isolated area, making it easy to social distance and avoid crowds. 

Galveston, Texas: When one thinks of Texas, a beach normally isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, Galveston proves that maybe it should be, as it’s home to a multitude of carnival attractions that are normally open under non-pandemic circumstances. The beach town also has a famous pier, museum, waterpark, and much more. There are several beaches to go to so you’ll have plenty of options to avoid large crowds as well.

Google To Put Voice Assistance Technology In Hotels To Promote Contact-Free Luxury

After six months in quarantine, many are trying to figure out new ways to itch their travel bugs in a safe and easy manner. Many hotel chains across the country have implemented dozens of new health and safety procedures to ensure all guests and employees feel comfortable when staying at their establishments. 

Google has recently announced that they want to take the hotel experience to the next level while we continue to battle this pandemic. The goal is simple; allow travelers to still feel a sense of luxury and relaxation while vacationing during a time that requires us to stay indoors and isolated at all times. To accomplish this, Google has teamed up with some hotels in both the United States and United Kingdom to launch their new hospitality solution technology, which will allow hotel-goers to enjoy a more hands-free experience when relaxing in their rooms. 

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The hotels that have decided to partner with Google will provide a Google Nest Hub in each room. The Google Nest Hub’s are a part of Google’s line of smart home technology, meant to make life all around easier and hands-free. 

The hub’s in the room can be easily used to request basic hotel services, confirm local restaurant and shop hours, make reservations at said restaurants, get weather reports, information on local tourist attractions/things to do, or even control the lights and heating in the rooms. All of that can be done with a simple “hey google” voice command. 

Guests can also use the hub to make their hotel stay as specific as they wish. This means they can request the hub to schedule a wake up call, ask for extra towels, more water or ice, etc. Some hotels will also set up Google Assistant within the room so that guests can check out using the hub, avoiding even more person-to-person interaction.

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The hub is also meant to be used as the main entertainment center for the room. Guests can easily access and control the YouTube app to find breaking news, music, videos, etc., they can even connect their phones via Bluetooth to play their own music. 

Google has ensured that all hubs don’t have any cameras, and customer identities will remain fully protected with the new technology, the same way it would be protected in a traditional hotel experience. The hub requires no sort of account sign in to work, and the microphone can be physically turned off for customers who don’t want to use the assistant at all. Google also released an official statement claiming that no audio would ever be recorded or stored from the hubs. 

As of right now, only a handful of hotels in both the US and UK have begun implementing this technology, but Google claims that they will be announcing more partnerships in the future. Current participating hotels include the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Ariz., Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort in Calistoga, Calif., Gale and Shelborne South Beach in Miami, Fla., Hotel  Zena and Viceroy D.C. in Washington, D.C., Village Hotels in the U.K., and Gansevoort Meatpacking and Synergy Chelsea in New York City.