Big Brother Is Watching

By Hayley Panagakis, April 9, 2015

It may sound surprising, but nearly 2,000 hotels are fighting to hold onto their towels, the most-stolen item in the lodging industry. They’re doing so by using a tiny tracking device about the size of an M&M. The device, which is embedded in towels, robes and bed sheets, lasts for more than 300 washes and is made up of a radio-frequency identification chip that notifies housekeeping when an item passes through the hotel lobby. Linen Technology Tracking, the manufacturer of the chips, originally designed them to keep tabs on linens coming to and from the cleaners. William Serbin, executive vice president for LTT, says the RFID chips are producing impressive results in loss prevention, reporting that one resort reduced spending on replacement towels from $21,000 to $8,000 per month.

Hotels aren’t the only ones taking advantage of tracking mechanisms. Thanks to new technology, airports can anonymously track wait times at security checkpoints via passengers’ Wi-Fi- or Bluetooth-enabled devices. It may sound like a page ripped from George Orwell’s “1984,” but it’s a useful tool for travelers coming through behind you. While the wait times are not yet posted online, TSA agents at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are making use of the gathered data to give travelers an accurate answer to the dreaded question: “How long is the security line?”

Photo credit: Will Femia

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