Quantum: Worlds First Smart Ship

| Monday, 25 Aug. 2014

Many technological innovations define the Quantum of the Seas - but best of all is Broadband Web Access

There is a new tagline to describe Quantum of the Seas, the brand new Royal Caribbean cruise ship scheduled to begin service in November, 2014. Royal Caribbean gave us its latest update on the ship during an online "reveal" broadcast from the shipyard at Papenberg, Germany, on Monday morning.

 "The world's first Smartship" is the new moniker Royal Caribbean has given Quantum. The reason is all the brand new technology that will be available on the new ship, much that has never been used on any cruise ship before, and some that is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

The "Smart Ship" experience begins with the fastest Internet access at sea ever. Royal Caribbean claims passengers will be able to remain connected the Internet at much higher speeds during the entire cruise for less than the current cost of Internet access on average cruise ships. This higher bandwidth also makes it possible to provide new apps for passengers to use with computers, smart phones and a new interactive bracelet that each passenger will receive upon arrival.

This new bracelet is a customized RFID (radio frequency identification) band (made of rubber, but more than a "rubber band") that contains smart electronics inside to keep you permanently connected to the ship's network and Internet. The bracelet will essentially replace the magnetic ID key cards most ships use to manage room access, dining and tour reservations and onboard purchases during the cruise. But unlike those magnetic key cards, these rubber protected bracelets will never demagnetize.

Additionally, a new software app will be available to all network devices called "Royal IQ." Along with tracking the ID, staterooms, preferences and reservations of each passenger, the app will also provide guests with the ship's daily schedules of events and maps of the ship at the push of a button. In the case of the RFID bracelets, a tap of the finger will activate the bracelets and allow guests to interact with the "Royal IQ" software at digital screens stationed throughout the ship by using hand signals alone.

More About the New Cruise Technology

Co-hosting the event was David Pogue, host of the PBS Network series "Nova" and a well-known reviewer of technology gadgets for PBS and other publications. During the show Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain said, " This ship's combination of ease and flexibility would make a yoga instructor proud. We were determined to take the best advances in modern technology, turn them into shipboard "wows" and take the frustration out of the vacation."

As before, you will be able to create all of the necessary check-in documents and plan dining reservations, shore tours and other cruise activities during the weeks and months leading up to your vacation through the Internet. But now, according to Royal Caribbean, providing you have done all of the preliminary work by the time you arrive, they will have your RFID bracelets ready for you and will have you aboard the ship within 10 minutes of your arrival.

Of course, getting aboard the ship so quickly means your first goal will be to locate your luggage. Each piece you left with a stevedore outside the ship upon arrival will be tagged with an ID number and the "Royal IQ" app you will tell you the exact location at all times and the moment it is delivered to your stateroom.

How This Technology Works

Quantum of the Seas is being described as "the most technologically savvy ship ever to sail." A new video says, "Quantum amps up the guest experience for the tech savvy and non-tech savvy like; golfers and gamers; grandmas and geeks. This isn't just a smart ship, it's a 'six ways from Sunday smart ship."

But the secret behind these advances is much faster Internet access from a new network of low- orbit communication satellites - from a company called O3B Networks. Older satellites maintain geosynchronous orbit at a distance of 35,786 kilometers in space, while the O3B Networks satellites are just 8063 kilometers away. The close proximity of more satellites allows Internet signal transmission directly to the ship - unlike older satellite technology.

The "Connected Cruise" Finally Arrives

"The days of getting away from it all on a vacation are long gone" Royal Caribbean finally declares. "Guests expect to remain connected to social media, their jobs, and to each other. With the O3B Network the company claims you can use Skype and even play Xbox games with gamers online worldwide while at sea. This is unprecedented access as far as cruise ships are concerned.

Other Tech: Robotic Dancers and Bartenders?

"Ever see a bionic bar with a robotic bartender?" Asks Royal Caribbean. "He makes a killer Mojito, just don't call him Robo-guy." The two robotic bartenders will be serving up cocktails in the brand new  "Bionic Bar."

Another Quantum robotic technology that has already been revealed is the array of robotic arms that are mounted with rotating video displays that can move in creative fashion while displaying various moving images, as part of the entertainment features in the new showroom to be called 270° (270 – Degree. Royal Caribbean describes this new form of entertainment as "robotic dancing screens."

Virtual Balconies

There will also be new "Virtual Balconies" offered in inside staterooms, which are actually very large high resolution television screens that display the feeds from permanently mounted cameras on the bow and stern of the ship. The screens in the staterooms are framed with curtains like balcony doors while the image itself has computer generated balcony railings in the frame so the guests get the feeling of real balcony experience.

Getting the Crew Involved

To help the crew integrate with all of this new technology Royal Caribbean will be giving every crew member on every ship of brand-new Microsoft tablet with access to not only the "Royal IQ" app so they can integrate with each their passengers, but also for their personal use so they can stay in touch with family members with Internet access. Altogether, the company says they will be giving away 40,000 tablets.

Finally, the "world's first smart ship" will have absolutely no incandescent light bulbs. There will be nothing but LED lighting aboard. Adding to further ecological benefits, computer technology was also used to design the hull and engines for minimum drag and better fuel  efficiency.

 

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