Let’s start with the positive news. Superyachts are cool. On board, you can always find the latest and the greatest technologies, from the technologies used to build the hull, the engines and electrotechnical installation, to the AV and control systems on board. The pace at which new innovations develop, and the pace at which new technologies are applied, is unique. With the level of bespoke design, and the unique positions of the superyacht owners, the superyachting industry is driving technological change and developing solutions for the challenges of the world of today; the industry is not only prepared for the future, we are shaping it.
The entertainment system on board is equipped for the more extreme expectations of users, especially now that mass gatherings will likely remain a thing of the past. The superyacht becomes even more of a getaway, with all the bells and whistles. For example, it is easy to transform the aft deck, with one push of a button, into a nightclub or a cinema offering the full immersive experience you would expect in a commercial movie theatre.
Internet of Things is no fad either and, in the future, we will even go further: hardware integrations will be replaced by a software model. Servers are already becoming multipurpose, comparable to the way the bridge is controlled now; a virtual, server-based control platform can run multiple control programs to control multiple areas of a superyacht over the network from a single centralised location. Crestron Virtual Control already offers the advantage of programming flexibility and the ability to easily add extra CPUs or memory, as needed. With hardware-based control, the programmer can decide which mobile devices and touch screens to put on which control system, to make sure that it isn’t overtaxed when running several processes simultaneously. With the Virtual Control-server, the program slots can be divided virtually. The next step is a software-based digital signal processor, for audio signals, and a software-based decoder and encoder for audio and video transmission over a generic network infrastructure.
While the connectivity on board is still limited on bandwidth, it is just a matter of time until these bandwidths start growing dramatically. Enough to reliably integrate cloud-based voice control solutions into the superyachting space.
Another solution we see coming imminently is a cloud-based management platform for all equipment an owner or management company is looking after, over various locations or yachts. ‘Cloud’ always used to be the word to avoid when talking about superyacht implementations, but that is about to change. This will also impact the most important part of the installation for the owners and guest: the actual User Interface (UI). Right now, we are already taking a big step with the addition of HTML5 programming, which allows to replace the historical, more static UI with intuitive, fast and dynamic visuals that can easily run on your own device. This BYOD trend is also relevant now because of Covid-19, but I expect it to remain a requirement for the future. Our personal devices and iPads on board in the future will complement other, more frequently used control options of the future such as voice control and Bluetooth beacons.
Localisation will play a big role here. By being able to use a person's precise location, for instance through Bluetooth beaconing, the control system on board can be programmed to do exactly what you want, before you want it. Do you prefer blue lights on 67 per cent while the heating switches to 21°C and Spotify plays your favorite playlist? All you will have to do is enter a room or deck for everything to switch to your preferences. And when you leave, the music and light will follow you, and turn off behind you. At Crestron, we already have thorough experience with automated, integrated control. Now, we are gradually integrating our pinpoint beaconing technology into
our products, because we are convinced that this, together with voice control, will play a much bigger part in the future.
Now, onto the part where we have a larger gap to close. Automation and integration of systems could make a difference on the sustainability of the superyacht industry. In offices and homes, it has been standard to turn off HVAC and lights when nobody is in the room. So why is the harbour filled with yachts where the lights all over the vessel are on for the whole evening, even though not all decks are in use? In truly smart spaces, different systems are integrated, resulting for instance, in the automatic closing of the blind and dimming of the lights when you turn on your TV. At Crestron, we have extensive experience with these types of integration in enterprise and residential applications, so we are looking forward to advancing them on board of superyachts too, especially since sustainability efforts will be a big part
of the innovation of the future.
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