This October, the Barcelona World Trade Centre played host to the very first Superyacht Technology Conference, and every praise should be given to the organisers who overcame a number of hurdles and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event was well done and, more importantly, well received by the attendees. Everyone that I spoke to was not only happy for a return to direct human interactions, but they were also in positive spirits when discussing the ways in which we can improve technology on board yachts.
The conference was made up of a range of different tech talks focusing on topics such as the future of satellite communication and ship roll analysis, with lots of personal stories in between to keep everyone entertained. The exhibition area had a good selection manufacturers and service providers displaying their solutions, designed to enable everything from better communications to their methods of providing the best AV & IT services.
Although the majority of people present were from the supplier/service sector, a number of captains, ETOs and other crew also attended, which gave plenty of opportunity to discuss technical possibilities for improvements on issues they were looking to resolve.
As for me, I was looking for ways to work more closely with the suppliers and integrators when I am engaged with my work on the vessels (as a remote AVIT ETO), and it was great to talk to many companies working in this sector to expand both mine and their possibilities.
Having competing connectivity companies like MIMO connect, K4 mobility, Excelerate Marine mixed with manufacturers like Cellweaver, Pepwave and Celerway on a single floor made for great discussions about how one technology may be better than other. Several of these companies have brought out a version of a dome with multiple antennas and modems built into a single housing to be located high up in the mast, and we saw many companies debating why their solution trumps their competition, all whilst keeping the tone positive and productive.
The conferences also explored how satellite technology is fast changing, with new types of satellites in closer orbits set to provide a path for the explosion on bandwidth that is being called upon. Demonstration was given on how AV control interfaces and systems are becoming more flexible and easier to program whilst opening doors for better customisation focused on customer needs instead of engineering wants, too.
As AV installations go, the discussion about sound spaces and the use of lighting to enhance the theatrical experience showed how important these topics are in the design of the guest areas, and therefore the guest experience. The future of installing home theatres to make the whole AV technology blend in with the environment also all touched on this topic. Elsewhere, the presentation on sensors to detect man overboard situations, as well as the tech talk given on the development of the use of hydrogen for a zero-emission yacht, made very interesting food for thought, as did the methods of bettering vessel performance through detailed analysis of oil.
The closing presentation given by Pippa was a real insight into how not only technology has changed over the years, but how it has come from a fledgling extra in onboard life to a core necessity. The changes we have seen in technology over a very short time are enormous, and it doesn’t look like that they will slow anytime soon. It is something that has come to be core to any yacht from the day the first drawings are made on the designers’ sketch board.
As such I can only say that I am looking forward to the Superyacht Technology Conference next year. I hope that everyone who attended will return with even more energy to help make this an event for exchanging ideas rather than simply showing off what they have, providing technological inspiration for both crew and providers!
Tim Gorter supports superyachts with their audio/video installation and connectivity networks. Working remotely he maintains vessel networks and assists in troubleshooting when problems arise. You can contact Tim here.