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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT ” ” IN A WORLD OF RAPID AND CONSTANT TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE, THE HIGH-END AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT ABOARD A SUPERYACHT CAN DO SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST PLAY YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC OR MOVIES. AUDIO-VISUAL AND IT GURU MIKE GIBBONS EXPLORES THE POTENTIAL OF A FULLY INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM. Yacht owners want the same standard of entertainment and control on board, as they have in their own homes. The high level of interactivity and personal choice expected by owners and guests depends on a reliable Ethernet network. Imagine an exclusive outdoor cinema, with a giant screen you can watch from the jacuzzi. Imagine a mirror over the bar transforming into a high definition TV so you can catch the Ryder Cup coverage. Imagine plugging your iPod into the sound system in your cabin, and having the music follow you around the yacht, from the sun deck to the beach club. Imagine a dining room ceiling where the constellations are picked out in glittering lights that track the movements of the stars currently overhead. These things are already reality in the world of superyacht audio-visual design. Not so long ago, the major yacht systems such as audio-visual, CCTV, lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning were all entirely independent. A multitude of different companies were responsible for design and installation. Gradually, they all converged: HVAC is now considered as a single entity, and as owners came to expect more functionality from their audio-visual systems, integration became the key. While as yet few companies can deliver all the necessary specialist systems, more large superyacht projects are building integration into the process. This ensures compatibility between equipment and systems whilst also facilitating service and support functions (a major factor for the crew when things go wrong). More importantly, an integrated system delivers a seamless user experience – lighting works in harmony with the mood music; the soundtrack for the gym can be linked to the pace of the treadmill; you can enjoy the view from the bridge or chart the yacht’s passage on the TV in your cabin. OFF-BOARD COMMUNICATIONS The advent of streaming media from services such as Spotify, iTunes and Netflix has also highlighted a growing dependency on the speed and quality of off-board communications. Charter guests and owners no longer expect to be limited to a ‘catalogue’ of pre-selected movies or music – if they can download anything at will at home, why not on board? Whilst services such as VSAT are improving their download speeds, they still struggle to come anywhere near what is achievable via 3G/ GSM let alone 4G. In fact, many superyachts now switch to 3 or 4G connection when close to shore within useable range. For those aiming to work on board, or planning a long-range cruise, the options available for off-board communications form an important part of the decision about which yacht to buy or charter. THE APPLE EFFECT The prevalence of Apple products around the world has directly influenced the design of yacht audio-visual systems. iPod docking stations have been typical for some time, but people now carry a great deal of content with them on iPad and MacBook. Apple’s AirPlay feature makes it very easy to view content from your iPad, iPhone or MacBook on a large screen Apple TV connected into the audio-visual system. This provides a simple and inexpensive way to allow guests on board to connect their own devices wirelessly and enjoy their own movies and music in the comfort of their cabin. The desire to connect wirelessly highlights an element of the system that has become the backbone of any superyacht audio-visual solution: the network. Typically, many other on board systems will use one common network, so there is a need to install enterprise-level equipment with the ability to manage and segregate network traffic. This avoids conflicts between systems and devices and ensures that fast network connections are always available for the entertainment of owners and guests. LOOKING AHEAD The art of integration is central to a pleasurable on board experience. For this reason, audio-visual needs to be considered along with all the other yacht systems, at the very outset of the design process. Over a three or four year new build programme, technology changes dramatically: the network design needs to be robust and flexible enough to allow for regular upgrades. Audio-visual specialists are working more closely with interior designers too, integrating systems into the fabric of the yacht, hiding speakers and TVs in the panelling and the furniture. Should the cinema screen drop from the ceiling, or emerge from the console table? Today’s superyacht audio-visual systems are a highly sophisticated collection of different sub-systems. Guests are already using a single, easy to operate remote control or touch screen panel to create their own environment. They can listen to music, watch movies and TV, control lights and HVAC, check up on CCTV, play computer games and browse the internet. Tomorrow’s solutions will be even more sophisticated, intuitive, personalised and flexible. Expect more voice controls and movement sensors, as your audio-visual system becomes ever more assimilated into an intelligent, integrated yacht environment. Watch this space! technology { 60 }


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