QR scan for hotel guests in China to check if sheets washed

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Want to know if the bed sheet in your hotel room is washed? Scan the QR code on it.

A laundry base in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, became the latest one in the country to attach small chips to hotel towels and bed sheets they washed.

The chip, which is resistant to water and heat, can record the time when the sheet is washed. Hotel guests can access washing information by scanning a QR code on each item.

The technology has been used in several big cities as the sanitation of hotel facilities has drawn increasing attention from the public after a series of recent investigations online showed some hotels, even high-end ones, did not wash bed sheets. They just tidied them up and passed them off as freshly washed ones.

In Xi'an, Shaanxi province, about 50 hotels placed chips and printed QR codes on linens last year, according to the Xi'an City Express, a local TV programme.

About 200 hotels have placed chips in their bedding in Beijing, but without QR codes because the technology is still being tested in the city, according to Pu Jinyong, manager of the Bluesky Qingke, a laundry base in Beijing.

"Chips in bedding can record the whole washing process, including washing, sterilization, eliminating alkali and ironing. All are automatic and monitored by cameras. By scanning QR codes, hotel guests can see the time of every operation," he said.

Pu, who got his technical experience from the United States and some European countries, said that China should catch up.

"In recent years, China began to increasingly focus on high-quality economic development," Pu said. "Chinese people would like better service. In response, hotels are competing in management and service, which has provided my company with a chance to develop the technology."

He said that it is not difficult to promote it nationwide because each chip can be used for about three years and its cost is low, accounting for about 3 per cent of a hotel's budget.

According to the Hubei Provincial Development and Reform Commission, the government encourages use of the technology but does not enforce it.

A poll conducted on Sunday by the National Business Daily showed that 73 per cent of 438,000 respondents support the laundry tracing system.

However, about 11,000 are still worried and would like to bring their own sheets and quilts when staying in hotels. Some of them said they still don't fully trust the technology and called for strict supervision from a third party.

Wu Yanmei, a bank clerk in Beijing, said that she would check the bedding every time she needs to stay in a hotel.

"I would judge by seeing whether quits and sheets have hair, stains and any trace that show they were used. And I would wear my pyjamas to keep a shield from them.

"Tracing technology would help a little, but there is still a possibility for hotels to cheat and slack off. So I think that it is important for the industry to be self-disciplined, and punishment should be enhanced," she said.

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