From Nevada to Davos – Hot topics from CES and WEF
How is the superyacht industry keeping up with new demands for the next decade?
Following the 2020 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - the world’s largest technology tradeshow organised by the Consumer Technology Association - it has been identified that “AI and 5G define the Future of Innovation”, according to the concluding message to the press by CES.
During the event, “Global technology brands blended with non-traditional tech companies to showcase how innovation is furthering business across all markets – setting the stage for the decade ahead,” said Karen Chupka, executive vice-president, CES.
As owners and charter guests increasingly look further afield for their superyacht experiences, as well as the rise in popularity of the ‘explorer’ vessel, what is the impact of AI and 5G?
Two of the key themes that were identified at CES to play a prominent role in consumer technology throughout the decade were artificial intelligence (AI), and 5G & mobile connectivity. As owners and charter guests increasingly look further afield for their superyacht experiences, as well as the rise in popularity of the ‘explorer’ vessel, there are undoubtedly new challenges with regards to staying connected on board with maximum bandwidth 24/7 at most remote locations, as the data amounts generated and requested by everyone on board keep increasing constantly. What is the impact of AI and 5G in this regard?
“We are predominantly working with multiple, aggregated 4G connections to provide the most resilient, performant, cyber-secure and cost-efficient connectivity with extended range, and our systems are ready to work with 5G as it becomes available along the coastline,” began Wilko Darger – CEO, CELLweaver. “For explorer yachts, the 5G/4G extended range achieved with our amplifiers is complemented with satellite services where there is no 5G/4G signal available.”
There is of course now more than ever an unparalleled demand for data on board, and this demand is from the internet usage by people on the yachts using WhatsApp, Facebook, music and videos on personal devices. “It is also from the AV systems on board, with an increase in streaming content, and at high resolution. This is a data demand that can hardly be satisfied through current satellite systems alone,” argued Darger, “so we are constantly looking into developing this further for our clients.”
“As there are now more and more systems on board that exchange and synchronise data via the Internet, sending data to systems manufacturers or to relevant management, the crew in charge remains in control for good reasons" - Wilko Darger – CEO, CELLweaver
When it comes to AI, reliability and security are paramount for superyachts. “As there are now more and more systems on board that exchange and synchronise data via the Internet, sending data to systems manufacturers or to relevant management, the crew in charge remains in control for good reasons," Darger added, suggesting that there is the potential for AI to assist the crew to deliver increased comfort, luxury and security. Interestingly, while the AI already used onboard relies on connectivity, the data required does not begin to compare to ten devices on board using, for example, Netflix at the same time, which is surprising when considering which of the two data uses is more important for the vessel and its safety.
“Connectivity is a basic necessity now. If explorer yachts want to have the maximum achievable level of connectivity, they need to combine the best 5G/4G technology for extended coastal range and satellite systems providing powerful coverage in polar latitudes, and understand that the latter will increase costs when relied upon.” Darger concluded.
In addition to the conclusions from CES regarding AI and 5G, conversations from the World Economic Forum at Davos placed an emphasis on the topic of ‘tech for good’, and coined 2020 as the ‘turning point for cybersecurity’ as humanity becomes increasingly data-dependent.
“Regarding Tech for Good, the yachting community is becoming more and more familiar with worldwide initiatives such as UN Blue Oceans Program, which plans to enhance social and economic benefits from oceans and coasts in an ecologically sustainable manner,” commented Jorge Calvin - Senior Account Manager, OmniAccess. “This has led to a growing expression of interest from yacht owners to contribute to this field.
"Recent and future technology developments in telecommunications enable hyperconnected yachts, encouraging many owners to offer their powerful and long-range vessels to contribute to the purposes of ocean exploration and climate study...” - Jorge Calvin - Senior Account Manager, OmniAccess
“Recent and future technology developments in telecommunications enable hyperconnected yachts, encouraging many owners to offer their powerful and long-range vessels to contribute to the purposes of ocean exploration and climate study,” Calvin continued. “At OmniAccess we are teaming up with the University of Rhode Island to adapt their ‘Telepresence’ solution, currently used for real-time audio and video communications between research vessels and shore-based participants, to be adapted for superyachts aiming to contribute to Ocean exploration and understanding.”
According to Calvin, the system is based on advanced VSAT communications reaching “unprecedented ship to shore speeds” enabling HD video productions from the boat. “Future LEO satellite constellations and integration with other networks will increase the ways the yachting community can contribute to alleviating climate change in general and Ocean issues in particular,” he concluded.
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