BWA Yachting recently announced the launch of Berkeley Rand, a design and engineering house that creates ‘experiential’ superyacht expeditions in remote locations. Berkeley Rand’s proposition is unique to the superyacht market for the simple reason that its focus is to use immersive technologies and artificial intelligence to enhance how those on board experience a destination.

“As experiential engineers first and foremost, we are cultured in a different language and are not students of what already exists – we are bringing something to superyachts that is currently unavailable,” explains Andrew Grant Super, managing director of Berkeley Rand, speaking exclusively to SuperyachtNews. “The remote locations become our playground to create something from nothing and react to the organic environment around us.”

The application of disruptive technologies is central to what Berkeley Rand offers and what makes it stand out in the maritime sector. In order to deliver this technology to superyachts, Berkeley Rand has a team of creative immersive designers who have used existing immersive technology platforms to build particular tools for a superyacht setting.

Immersive technologies will be enlisted even before an expedition with Berkeley Rand has started, including the use of virtual reality for the 3D mapping of all navigational routes and plotting coastal geography, marine biology and marine mammalogy along the way. This allows Berkeley Rand to map out routes virtually and understand how to optimise the best routes and logistics prior to the trip.

“You can relive battles of World War II in the south Pacific, take part in AR treasure hunts on deserted islands, or make the superyacht disappear to see kilometres below the hull itself.”

During the expedition, Berkeley Rand then employs augmented reality (AR) across various devices on board, such as smart phones, tablets and glasses, to create virtual ‘experiences’ that are inspired by the surrounding marine biology, marine mammalogy and the geographical shape of these isolated regions. Super offers some examples of the experiences possible; “You can relive battles of World War II in the south Pacific, take part in AR treasure hunts on deserted islands, or make the superyacht disappear to see kilometres below the hull itself. You could also track the journey of a pod of Beluga whales to understand where they have come from and where they are going, so that you see the wildlife you encounter in a much bigger context.”

Berkeley Rand then utilises artificial intelligence to create personal expedition guides for everyone on board. “Imagine having your own personal Alexa created for each person on board’s individual interests,” describes Super. “With personalised alerts relating to the trip and specific experiences created for each person, acting as an on-board concierge. This enables many individual journeys during one expedition.”

When it comes to designing itineraries, Berkeley Rand therefore covers the navigational planning and the design and engineering of immersive experiences, which is then supported by the logistical side of the business. The company has built up 50 “off-grid hubs” in anticipation of its launch, which will be complemented by BWA’s serviced ports, as well as its partners A1 Yachting and Luise Yachting, so that nowhere is too remote for logistical reasons. 

Of course, Berkeley Rand’s launch has come during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there are many questions surrounding the possibilities of travel. But Super believes that the situation could be positive for the company, in that it will create greater demand for remote travel. “We expect there to be more waves of the pandemic, even if small in comparison,” he explains. “But the knee-jerk effect from countries and ports could be effected and we can’t take it lightly. We opened for business at the height of the pandemic, when clients couldn’t get into ports in Mediterranean but still needed to plan ahead, so started to look at more remote adventures. Remote travelling, on land or sea, is going to start becoming the norm for everyone.”

While no specific details can be revealed, Super confirms that the planning of Berkeley Rand's first expeditions is currently underway. So, it won't be long until superyacht owners and guests will be using immersive technologies and artificial intelligence to experience remote destinations in a new way.

Images courtesy of Berkeley Rand

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