Nearly every megayacht these days features some type of touchscreen control system for operating the blinds, lighting, TV and music, even air conditioning. The most popular ones, based on my own observations as well as conversations with various captains, brokers, and yard representatives, are from Crestron. While several other manufacturers’ products are available, and while many do a good job, Benetti felt it could do better.
Four years ago it reached out to Networks, an engineering company that develops telecommunications networks and audio/video applications, as well as Raymar, a firm with experience in integrating electronics onboard. A year later, the teams had a prototype that, after testing and evaluation, led to the installation of Benetti’s first proprietary integrated control system aboard the 59-meter (193-foot) Wind in spring 2006.
And at the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Benetti announced that from now on, all its custom superyachts will feature this system, called Benetti’s Exclusive Sea Technology, or BEST for short.
Here’s how it works. A handful of wall-mounted and handheld devices are connected to a central server onboard, and the owner or guests can select from various services. Say someone wants to listen to music, or see the latest scores on Sky TV. He or she can access these through intuitive labels on the touchscreen. The same holds true for anyone wishing to turn up the air conditioning, draw the blinds, dim or raise the lights, or access the latest navigation data. Since each yacht’s system is customized, only those services an owner truly wants will show up on each of the screens. And should an owner wish to upgrade to add more features later–say, have the caller ID from an incoming call to his mobile phone display on the TV while he’s watching a movie–Benetti’s in-house team can take care of it wirelessly. That’s right: No need to send a team to the boat.
Among the more impressive functions I found BEST to have concern safety–specifically, video-surveillance and anti-intrusion controls. If an alarm trips, crewmembers can be alerted on the screens in their cabins or in the wheelhouse, even via a text message on their mobile phones. They can also call up video-camera footage, as can owners if they so wish.
Benetti says BEST was designed to work with whatever hardware–computers, phones, TVs, etc.–presently is on the market as well as seamlessly work with products that will emerge in the coming years. The goal is to simplify life aboard for owners, guests, and crew.