Starwood Hotels’ benefits from the introduction of touch-screen technology
The first benefit that Starwood Hotels may derive from using touch-screen technology would be faster and improved services. The hotel could mount large touch-screens on top of tables and connect each of these screens to a centralized system manned by a technician inside the hotel. The touch-screen would contain a menu that consists of all meals available at that particular time. Once a customer steps into the hotel, he simply checks the menu and makes an order, rather than wait for the waiter to come and take his order. The information is picked up by the technician who then informs the kitchen staff to serve the meals as ordered.
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The technician would also remove meals that are out of supply from the menu, instead of inconveniencing a customer who orders such a meal, only to be told that it is out of supply. The touch-screen would carry additional information such as special offers of the day and upcoming developments in the hotel. The information would increase customer flow into the hotels due to service improvements.
The touch-screen table could also have pre-set questions that would gauge the customer’s satisfaction with the services offered at the hotel, i.e. a form of a questionnaire. Since information is offered anonymously, customers are likely to give their honest views and this will enable the hotel management to improve on its services based on feedback from customers.
Starwood Hotels could also mount a touch-screen on the wall and this would contain information on the nutritional contents of the various foods served in the hotel. This would enable customers to choose their meals from an informed perspective. However, the weakness of touch-screen technology is that a customer can obtain more information from a waiter than a touch-screen.
Touch technology displacing the WIMP interface
The computer mouse has been in use since 1968, however, an alternative input device, the touchpad, came into use around 1983. The invention meant that the mouse could either be replaced or be used in tandem with the touchpad, in Bill Buxton’s case, he means that the touch-screen technology is at a stage where it could replace the WIMP interface or be used together with other interaction methods such as those that recognize gesture and voice-recognition systems that reduce the complexity of interacting with computer systems. Despite the invention of the touchpad, the mouse is still in use nearly three decades later, therefore, the WIMP interface may still be in use in the future, owing to its simplicity.
The WIMP technology has survived through the years and cannot be replaced quite simply. However, to replace this system, the touch-screen system and interface would have to be simplified so that even a computer novice could easily use it without much training, similar to the Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointing devices. Touch-screen systems would have to incorporate additional components, for example, a system that would recognize finger motion and translate particular finger movements as scrolling, clicking, and mouse movement. This is an adaptation of the WIMP interface and would enable persons who are used to the interface to adapt to the touch-screen gradually, until the WIMP interface is completely replaced, however, the process could take decades.
Advanced touch-screen technology as a solution in search of a problem
I do not agree with this statement. Advanced touch-screen technology will be a very important component of computerized systems in the future. To begin with, the touch-screen was a very important invention as can be seen today in several electronic devices such as phones, ATMs and banks, information kiosks, and in industries and medical institutions. The popularity of touch-screens arises from the fact that they act both as input and output devices. This eliminates the use of additional peripheral devices such as a mouse or touchpad. Therefore, advanced touch-screen technology will improve the user experience.
While advanced touch-screens will become more complex, user interaction with them will be simplified and they will offer more computing abilities that are not presently possible. The benefits of such systems will exceed the technical difficulties and challenges by far.
The relevance of Touch-Screen Technology in Saudi Arabia
Touch-screen technology can be easily used in the Saudi hotel industry, especially by large chain hotels such as Intercontinental, Al Faisal Hotels, and Riyadh Marriot Hotel, owing to the benefits of the system. However, the installation costs will be high, but this cost could be offset by a reduction in staff numbers and an increase in customer numbers. The challenge of the touch-screen system is that persons who are not conversant with such systems would shy away from hotels that solely use it for communication.
Another challenge is that huge loss can be incurred in case the touch-screen tables are broken through the negligence of the customer or staff. Touch-screens also suffer from scratching after some time, however, this can be prevented by using screen protectors. Touch screens could also be used in banks and social places.
The social implications of touch-screen technology in the Saudi market arises from the notion that these are Western ways. This could slow down the acceptance of this technology in various sectors.