The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most disruptive technologies of our time. Most of us already use devices that are part of IoT on a daily basis without even noticing. IBM, as one of the largest global players in modern technologies, defines IoT as “any object with embedded electronics that can transfer data over a network — without any human interaction.” Most of us know IoT devices as so called smart devices, like your smartphone, loudspeakers or lights that can be adjusted using an app on your phone.
Closely connected to IoT are two additional technologies that cause a big stir in the technology community are Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning. All three technologies combined have the potential to change the way we live and interact in the future completely.
IoT devices with all their sensors collect a huge amount of data and often send it to the device manufacturer or a service provider. This data can be analysed for patterns and the results can be used to for example forecast traffic in city areas or predict flu outbreaks in a specific area (Big Data Analytics). Special learning algorithms throughout the analytics and prediction process help finetuning predictions (machine learning). These technologies can be used to analyse data on a wide scale for example for a smart city and narrowed down to autonomous driving and offering services for an individual.
What does this technology mean for your live onboard a yacht?
IoT is sometimes already changing the way of working onboard a state-of-the-art yacht and future projects will make more and more use of IoT. Devices in all areas of the vessel can be equipped with sensors that interconnect the equipment and provide data that can be used to run the yacht more efficiently. All areas of the ship will be affected from navigation to engineering and interior. Here a few examples how your life can be affected by IoT.
− Navigation/Deck: Sensors collect environmental data all over the ship e.g. wind and weather data data, water data (temperature, current speed and direction etc.), traffic data of the surrounding sea area. This data is constantly analyzed and compared with the route planning. Based on the results the system can automatically change course to optimize fuel consumption. Ultimately this function will result in fully autonomous yachts.
− Engineering: equipment suppliers start implementing new sensors into their machinery to better observe machinery data. Based on this data they propose maintenance tasks. These new sensors and smart devices for entertainment installed all over the ship bear new tasks for the engineers and the ETO with regards to maintenance. Computer knowledge will become more important in daily work.
− Interior/Galley: A lot of tech companies will provide a variety of integrated entertainment and luxury systems to increase the comfort for guests and crew onboard. Crew must familiarize with more complex systems in guest areas and galley. To name a few examples: lighting connected to entertainment systems and speec recognition, smart, self cooking kitchen equipment with automatic order procedures and a lot more.
All these developments promise a completely new user and guest experience onboard a modern superyacht, but, as it is often with new technologies, it bears also new threats to the users.
Challenges and threats
Despite the nearly endless posibillities of IoT to improve our everyday life there are great threats to security and privacy that must be addressed.
At the moment IoT for private and industrial use is still at the beginning of it‘s development. Although there are already a lot of smart devices on the market there is a no real common standard for the data exchange between the devices. Currently there are still a variety of concurrent transfer methods on the market. In consequence you always have to carefully check if a new device is compatible to your existing system.
On all trade fairs manufacturers introduce new devices or a new revision of an existing device and extend their product portfolio in this way. Therefore the devices are often still very expensive and requires high investments to keep the systems up-to-date. Something that is state-of-the-art today can be obsolete in a year. This lifecycle is even shorter than that for smartphones.
Despite the fast developments the biggest problem at the moment is the lack of security. All devices are embedded into the ship‘s computer network and are even reachable over the internet. A lot of studies and hacking attempts showed that the devices are still quite easy to access from outside and steal data. Although the manufacturers are not getting tired to assure that their devices are secure. Especially yachts handle and store private data of guest that must be secured at all times. Smart devices can be used to penetrate the network‘s security to get access to computer‘s onboard.
Product Manager IDEA Yacht & Customer Care Manager