13 Jul 2016
VBH launches Apple Watch interface
By Rory Jackson
Van Berge Henegouwen (VBH), the Dutch technology integrator, has launched an iteration of its Pivot control application that is compatible with the Apple Watch. This new technology is a further example of VBH’s dedication to what it terms ‘Living Technology’. The aim is to make complex technology intuitive, unobtrusive and practical. As with any number of technological advancements the idea to incorporate Pivot into the Apple Watch was born out of practical necessity.
“A captain on one of the projects that we had implemented Pivot on came to us with a desire to reduce the number of devices his crew carried,” starts Ameet Sarvaiya, VBH’s chief technology officer. “This new service is another step in our quest to bring the latest technologies to our customers and merge them with other on board systems to deliver experiences that are both pleasurable and convenient.”
Pivot is VBH’s control application that allows users, guests and crew alike, to control on board audio visual, cabin environment and communications systems. VBH has now extended this system to the Apple Watch, however, the system includes subtle limitations that optimise the user’s experience of this particular device.
“I have been wearing the Apple Watch for roughly six months as part of the research phase to understand user interaction,” continues Sarvaiya. “What we realised was that the watch is not meant for long interaction, you don’t want to be staring at it for more than a few seconds at best.”
As a result, VBH’s Apple Watch Pivot application does not house all the features of the parent application. These features can be separated into two core categories; use for crew and use for owners and guests.
From the crew perspective the application allows them to receive and respond to steward calls using push notifications, as you would a message on an iPhone. However, the key difference is that the alerts are subtler that a phone or radio and alerts need not interfere with the guest experience. VBH has also developed a central messaging system that allows the crew to contact each other.
From the guest’s perspective the first key feature is to call a steward via the watch. Secondly, the watch allows guests to access sequences of pre-set commands to control the superyacht’s audio visual and environmental settings. Sequences that have been fine-tuned, either by guests or on board ETO’s, can be accessed through the watch without the myriad options available on the parent application, making transitioning between board environments simpler than before. These pre-sets include lighting, curtains and entertainment systems.
The most interesting feature, however, is the addition of contextual controls. “The system becomes aware of what it is controlling,” explains Sarvaiya. “Based on what the user is doing it gives you contextual controls. If you are watching a film you will be presented the play, pause, mute and volume controls.” Similarly, if the user is listening to music they are presented with the play, pause, next and previous options.
VBH will be attending this year’s Global Superyacht Forum as official event partners.
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