First keys were passé, and now key cards may be on the way out: USA Today reports on new hotel door-locking technology, with radio-frequency ID, magnetic paper cards, and very Alias and Mission Impossible-esque iris scans and fingerprint IDs highlighted among the new methods tested.
For now, expect to find these types of "keys" at higher-end hotels, rather than budget properties. Sydney Bristow types may want to check out Nine Zero, a boutique hotel in downtown Boston that has implemented the iris scan technology. The Plaza, New York's famous luxury hotel, is considering using radio-frequency cards after completing renovations. The cards will unlock a door when passed by at close range—perfect for travelers laden down with shopping spree bags (or spy gear)—no need to rummage for the room key.
The new technology stems from the high loss of plastic keycards (hotel guests frequently lose or throw them out), green/environmental concerns (paper cards, iris scans, and fingerprinting generate little waste), and overall security improvement.
So if you find yourself checking into a hotel and getting fingerprinted, don't be alarmed. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is simply to pick your room lock. And then hopefully get a good night's sleep.