Smart technology is becoming a growing part of life on board, not only in crews’ downtime but in their daily work too. In Issue 75, Lulu Trask looks at how smart technology is being utilised when it comes to working on board, the privacy argument and where the future lies for smart technology and superyacht crew. We bring you a preview...

While some of us might pick out watches and glasses as part of an outfit, and bluetooth earpieces as the latest ‘hands-free’ accessory, yacht managers and owners are selecting all of these as part of their crews’ uniform. Not too long ago, Videoworks looked into using the Google Glass, but soon opted for the smart watch instead. “The Google Glass was very good for the crew because they had their hands free to continue working, but then we abandoned them because they weren’t so easy to use,” explains Sara Stimilli, communication and marketing manager at Videoworks. (Incidentally, this year, Google announced it was stopping production of the Google Glass.) Videoworks is now using the Samsung Gear watch and, at the time of writing, is waiting for the release of the Apple Watch. “It’s good for the guests and owner because it’s something very new and something the owner will most likely want to have as a toy. It’s also good for the crew because it’s easy to wear, and Apple is very good at producing fashionable objects,” Stimilli adds.

You might be looking down at your bare wrist and wondering about the capabilities of smart technology for those non-watch-wearing crewmembers. Net-Logic has entered the smart domain with its digital VesselWatch radio system and its 30 associated apps, an idea that came to the company when looking into how to create a smart stew call. “A problem when we talked to the crew was where this [stew call] information goes,” reveals Jack Robinson, director of commercial development at Net-Logic. “It can go to a buzzer in the pantry, but that’s not very convenient as it means you need a crewmember in the pantry the whole time. It’s a bit like a Victorian bell – not that awesome in 2015. So we said, what is something that’s always with the crew? Obviously it’s the radio itself, as a mandated safety device.”

"To be honest with you, most of this technology is not smart yet. They don’t talk and they lack the capability to learn."
- Erik Calissendorff, ex-ETO and founder, Plejd

What do we mean when we talk about smart technology? Images of smartphones and tablets immediately pop up but is this really smart? “What does smart stand for? If you look in the dictionary it says two things: very good at learning and thinking about things, and showing intelligence and good judgement,” explains Erik Calissendorff, ex-ETO and founder of Plejd. “To be honest with you, most of this technology is not smart yet. They don’t talk and they lack the capability to learn. The lack of learning is something we’re working on, so that’s going to get there. But showing intelligence and good judgement is still a challenge for a lot of us to be honest.”

When we look at the technology that’s coming into play, the interior department is certainly on its way to becoming smarter. The engineering department, however, aside from the alarm notifications, seems to have fallen off the smart map somewhat. “If we look at it from the engineers’ standpoint, an awful lot has to be monitored and controlled today, more than even last year,” says Mike Blake, president at Palladium Technologies. “If we can make our systems more intelligent to be on the borderline of, or close to, artificial intelligence, so they’re thinking, operating and learning the same way a chief engineer does, then we can gain the time back for the chief engineers to do what they do best, and that’s to make final decisions. We are evolving our systems, and I’ve been developing artificial-based systems since 1986 and I think we’re going to be employing much more of that technology in our systems, so that that they’re not just alarm systems, they’re much more intelligent.”

Find the full article in the Monaco Yacht Show issue of The Crew Report (Issue 75), out mid-September, and available at The Superyacht Owner stand, QE9, at the Monaco Yacht Show.