• Aquator Marine

User interfaces and innovation on board

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

(Article originally published by

Superyacht Electronics Academy's Scott Molloy ponders the future of the user interface in the superyacht sector…

When asked for my thoughts on superyacht innovation, I began with wondering what I considered that to be. And how much the industry actually innovates versus perception.

We regularly hear from companies offering things that claim to be different or new. Are they always innovating or is much of it hype? Most technology on yachts is not sector-driven, but follows existing lifestyle trends – for example, electronics consumerism and connectivity thirst.

Innovation is not sourcing the ‘latest and greatest’, or obtaining rare or expensive materials. In the luxury sector, the lines between innovation and ‘wow factor’ are blurred. Innovation has to be about solving a problem for the first time. Or improving on an existing solution in a way that brings additional benefits. Obviously, diverging from tried and tested solutions takes longer, costs more and brings more risk. Worse still, additional teething problems may negatively impact the on-board experience. So, to innovate can go completely against our primary objective.

One owner I worked for was a serial yacht builder who totally respected the processes of commissioning and ‘running in’ a new vessel. On his first trip, the crew had technical issues deploying a tender crane that stowed under the aft deck basketball court. As his guests stood observing, and unfazed by the delay, he asked them to leave the crew to it. As he ushered them back inside, tales of how such issues were normal on a new boat ensued. This is the breed of yacht owner that makes it much easier to innovate. The breed of bold and adventurous yacht owner we need to commission more builds in the industry!

Recently, Crestron ran a live online panel discussion on the feasibility of a hydrogen-powered superyacht. While there were obvious and difficult hurdles, it would also require an adventurous owner to commission such a build. Or perhaps an owner with a desire to commission such a project based on environmental principles. Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.