Las Vegas (AFP) - Leisure travel colossus Carnival Corporation is putting a spin on technology used at Disney World to turn cruise ships into what it bills as smart cities at sea.
Carnival on Tuesday introduced an "Ocean Medallion" designed to tailor trips to individual passengers by learning their tastes and on-board habits, and even keeping track of roaming children.
The travel giant, which has 10 cruise brands, unveiled the lightweight, waterproof medallions in Las Vegas as the Consumer Electronics Show gadget extravaganza prepared to get underway.
Capable of whispering wirelessly to a web of on-board sensors, the medallions are designed to help cruise operators anticipate guests' needs, making note of a favorite wine, say, and prompting suggestions as the journey progresses, according to Nytec, the US company behind the technology.
Carnival plans to roll out the devices on its Regal Princess cruise ship late this year, with two more ships following next year.
The medallions let crew know where people are and where they might be heading, helping with tasks ranging from unlocking cabin doors for guests to anticipating which pools or restaurants might need back-up staff or letting housekeeping know when the time is right to tidy up.
Medallions also act as wallets, charging purchases to people's shipboard accounts, with identities confirmed by photos that pop up on workers' screens and allow people to be greeted by name.
"Carnival is about to launch a concept that is really a smart city on a cruise ship," Carnival Corporation spokeswoman Vicki Johnson told AFP.
"Cruise ships are very city-like when you boil things down."
Carnival executive John Padgett, who worked on the project, was previously a vice president at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in Florida, where he helped bring to life MagicBand smart bracelets that used short-range signals to replace wallets, tickets, and room keys.
The medallions were designed to appear more like pendants than gizmos, using wireless signals to connect to sensors spread across a ship. Weighing 1.8 ounces, they can serve as keepsakes after the trip is over.
Adult guests will be able to opt out of being discoverable by the devices, which are also designed to help people navigate from one place to another on board massive and sometimes disorienting ships.
"It will also tell you if your husband is in the casino when he is not supposed to be," Johnson quipped.