For years now, hotel chains have been toying with alternative ways to letting patrons check-in, access their room and run up their bill with all-too-convenient in-room services. Marriott began testing smartphone check-ins way back in 2006, and select boutique locations (like The Plaza Hotel in New York and Boston's Nine Zero) have relied on RFID, iris scanners, biometric identifiers and all sorts of whiz-bang entry methods in order to make getting past a lock that much easier (or harder, depending on perspective). This month, InterContinental Hotels Group announced that they would soon be trialing OpenWays at Chicago's Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center, enabling iPhone owners to fire up an app and watch their room door open in a magical sort of way. Other smartphone platforms will also be supported, and as we've seen with other implementations, users of the technology will also be able to turn to their phone to order additional services, extend their stay or fess up to that window they broke. There's no word on when this stuff will depart the testing phase and go mainstream, but we're guessing it'll be sooner rather than later. Video after the break, if you're interested.

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