Tracking devices in hotel linens thwart thievery

In case you wondered, Big Brother is watching. In your hotel room. A Miami-based company, Linen Tracker, has patented a radio-frequency identification chip that keeps real-time inventory of frequently misplaced or stolen items such as hotel linens. Like, you know, that plushy robe you planned to take as a souvenir, or that Egyptian cotton pillowcase that sent you into such blissful slumber. The chips are also designed to help hotel managers and maids stock rooms and order supplies.

reports that three hotels, in New York, Miami and Honolulu, are using Linen Trackers, and the company’s executive vice president, William Serbin, sees a bright future for the devices. “Any given month, [hotels] can lose five to 20 percent of towels, sheets and robes. That gets expensive with the rising cost of cotton.”

Serbin was inspired by the sensors used on toll roads that he drove on in Florida. “We tweaked the technology, went through trial and error with different types of chips and put them in the correct place,” he explains. “Now, chip life exceeds 300 wash cycles.”

So far, the chips appear to be working: a handful of linen thieves have been apprehended, and asked to return the pilfered items to the hotel. Shame, it seems, is also an effective deterrent.

[Photo credit: Flicrk user C Ray Dancer]