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Navigating the Future of Superyacht Technology with Daniel Kerkhof of Creston Marine

Crestron Marine: A name synonymous with seamless integration and intuitive control in the world of superyachts. But what truly sets them apart in this competitive market? In this insightful interview, we speak with Daniel Kerkhof, Director of Marine at Crestron, to explore the innovative strategies and cutting-edge technologies that define Crestron Marine. Join us as we uncover their unique approach and unwavering dedication to delivering an unparalleled experience for discerning owners and guests, setting a new standard for luxury and performance on the high seas.


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Origins of Crestron Marine: How did the idea for Crestron Marine come about, and how does it align with Crestron Electronics’ broader mission?


Our presence in the marine market wasn’t a calculated move, but rather an organic evolution. Crestron technology, designed for seamless customisation, found a natural home in the bespoke world of superyachts. Today, our mission is clear: to empower owners and guests with the latest technologies, delivering an extremely luxurious experience on the high seas.


Aligning with Crestron’s Broader Mission


Crestron’s core mission is to enrich how people work, live, and learn around the globe. By bringing our expertise to the marine market, we aim to elevate the superyacht experience, offering solutions that seamlessly integrate into the elegant and connected lifestyle that discerning owners demand. This means providing access to the latest technologies without compromise and ensuring unparalleled ease of use for both owners and guests. After all, a seven-star hotel experience is an expectation onboard, and Crestron is dedicated to delivering just that.


Organic Growth in the Marine Market


The first superyachts were built 40 years ago, while Crestron has existed for over fifty years. This longevity and commitment to innovation have positioned Crestron as a natural fit for the marine market. One of the key strengths of Crestron technology is its adaptability and ease of integration into custom-designed systems, a crucial requirement for every marine project. Skilled Crestron integrators can utilise the same Crestron hardware and software developed for the likes of NASA, governments, leading corporations, and luxury homes for marine projects. This allows them to flawlessly create spectacular experiences on board a superyacht. This unique approach ensures that superyachts benefit from the best-in-class technology and close working relationships that are hallmarks of Crestron, while delivering solutions that cater to the elegant and connected lifestyle of discerning owners.


Adapting to the Global Landscape


As Crestron’s presence in the marine market grew, we realised the need to adapt to the unique challenges and opportunities it presented. Marine projects often transcend geographical boundaries, with stakeholders located around the world. To address this, we established a dedicated marine division, providing a centralised point of contact and ensuring seamless communication throughout the project lifecycle, regardless of location. This global reach, coupled with our commitment to dedicated support, further enhances the Crestron Marine experience.


Integration of Systems: Crestron Marine offers a seamless integration of various onboard systems, from audio and video to lighting and climate. How do you ensure that these integrations are both user-friendly and technologically advanced?


We take a holistic approach to onboard system integration. We design, manufacture, and support the full spectrum of systems, from audio and video to lighting and climate. This allows us to ensure seamless integration and user-friendly control while staying at the forefront of technological advancements.


User-Friendly Design and Control


User experience is paramount in everything we do. Our rigorous testing process includes field-testing control interfaces to ensure the most intuitive operation possible for both guests and crew. We also make sure our products are compatible with different standards, such as DALI, KNX, and AES67, to facilitate easy, reliable, and secure integration of third-party products. Additionally, we offer APIs for developers to create custom control interfaces based on HTML5 and industry-standard UX development suites.


Technological Advancement and Innovation


We are constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. Our commitment to research and development ensures that our solutions are always at the cutting edge of technology. For example, our DM NVX product family offers unparalleled flexibility and scalability for AV distribution onboard superyachts. These solutions provide high-performance video and audio over IP, eliminating the need for bulky and complex cabling, while offering advanced, cutting-edge features for a truly immersive, seamless entertainment experience onboard.


Commitment to Training and Education


We understand that the success of our solutions relies heavily on the knowledge and skills of the crew. That’s why we offer specialised marine training courses in collaboration with the Superyacht Electronics Academy. These courses equip crew members with the necessary expertise to manage the Crestron onboard technologies effectively. Additionally, our award-winning training program provides ongoing education for crew members and recruitment agencies, ensuring they stay up to date with the latest advancements in Crestron technology.

Unique Challenges in Marine Environments: What are some of the unique challenges of implementing technology solutions in marine environments, and how does Crestron Marine address them?


Marine environments present unique challenges for technology implementation. Electronics must withstand harsh conditions, including moisture, salt, and constant motion. Additionally, space is often limited, making installation and cooling of equipment racks a challenge.


We address these challenges by adhering to stringent marine product guidelines. Our keypads and speakers are designed to withstand the harshest environments, ensuring their durability and reliability. Additionally, our AV-over-IP technology minimises cabling, saving space and offering maximum flexibility for media distribution throughout the yacht.


Overcoming Geographical Constraints


Remote locations and limited access pose another challenge. We address this through a three-pronged approach. First, our products undergo rigorous testing to ensure maximum reliability and durability. Second, our systems offer remote access for technicians to diagnose and troubleshoot issues from land. Finally, we provide comprehensive training for crew members, empowering them to handle basic troubleshooting and client requests.


Meeting High-End Expectations


Superyacht owners and guests expect a seven-star hotel experience. To meet these expectations, we provide flexible systems that can adapt to diverse requirements. Our IP-connected and controlled components offer unparalleled flexibility for installation, use, and maintenance. Additionally, we recognise the importance of a robust network infrastructure, ensuring seamless connectivity and reliable performance.


Collaboration and Partnerships


We believe in fostering strong relationships with industry partners. We collaborate with leading manufacturers and system integrators to ensure seamless integration of our technology with other onboard systems. This collaborative approach ensures that our solutions meet the specific needs of each superyacht, delivering a truly customised and integrated experience.


Future Innovations


We are constantly exploring new technologies and innovations to enhance the superyacht experience. We are particularly excited about the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalise and automate onboard systems, further elevating the level of comfort and convenience for owners and guests.


Importance of User Experience: How does Crestron Marine ensure a consistent and intuitive user experience across all its offerings, given the diverse range of systems and controls?


Intuitive control is quite literally at the core of what we do at Crestron Marine. It’s the guiding principle behind our diverse range of systems and controls, ensuring a consistent and effortless user experience across the board.


Our journey began 50 years ago, and control systems have always been the backbone of our company. We’ve constantly refined and improved these systems, with user-friendliness at the forefront of our minds. The evolution never stops, and we’re always developing new UI solutions based on the latest technology or experiences clients see, want, or need, offering diverse customised functionality, all while maintaining ease of use.


Here’s how we ensure a consistent and intuitive user experience across our marine offerings:


User-friendly interfaces: Our control systems are designed to be intuitive and easy to use, even for those unfamiliar with the technology. They’re also customizable to match the specific needs of each vessel and user preference.


Consistent design across devices: The user experience remains consistent regardless of the device used to control the systems, whether it’s a touchpad, keypad, or remote. This ensures a seamless and familiar experience for users, regardless of their location on the vessel.


Integration with existing systems: Crestron Marine solutions integrate seamlessly with existing systems on board, whether Crestron or third-party such as lighting, climate control, and navigation systems. This allows users to control all aspects of their environment from a single interface.


Comprehensive training and support: We provide comprehensive training and support to ensure users can get the most out of their systems. This includes on-site training, online resources, and dedicated customer support.


Continuous innovation and improvement: We’re constantly innovating and improving our user interfaces and control systems. This ensures that users always have access to the latest and most advanced technology.


Whether owners and their guests are using a touchpad, keypad, or remote, we want them to feel instantly comfortable and in control of the experience onboard. For our superyacht clientele, this is even more important, as many have a Crestron system in their home as well. We understand the importance of replicating their home experience, even when they’re on the water. As we explained in a recent blog post, the ability to mimic the client’s home experience, even when they’re on the water, is a crucial aspect of our approach.


Finally, we take pride in supporting our hardware products long after their typical lifespan, and when we design new products, backward compatibility is a top priority. This ensures a seamless and familiar experience for our users, regardless of the technology they’re interacting with. By focusing on user experience, we provide our clients with a seamless and intuitive way to control their vessels, enhancing their overall enjoyment and comfort. We believe that a positive user experience is essential for creating a truly luxurious and enjoyable experience on board.

Global Presence and Support: With 90 fully staffed offices worldwide, how does Crestron Marine ensure consistent quality and support for its clients across different regions?


With 90 fully staffed offices worldwide, Crestron Marine is uniquely positioned to provide consistent quality and support for its clients across different regions. That global footprint allows us to be there for our clients, no matter where they are in the world.


But it’s not just about physical presence. Beyond that, we ensure that support is available 24/7. Our marine specialists are highly dedicated to providing the same level of service that superyacht customers expect from their crew, regardless of their location. That’s exactly why we started the marine department: so our customers get the same level of service from someone who knows their project, no matter where they are.


As for consistent quality, it’s deeply ingrained in Crestron’s culture. Although we ship our products globally, the testing process that takes place at our U.S. headquarters is incredibly demanding. From hardware to firmware to software, we have a team dedicated to trying to break (or hack) what we make before a solution ever ships.


By combining its global presence with its commitment to quality and support, Crestron Marine ensures that its clients receive the same exceptional experience, no matter where they are in the world. We understand that superyacht owners and their guests demand the best, and we are committed to delivering on that promise.


Future Innovations: As an innovator in the marine technology space, what are some upcoming advancements or features that Crestron Marine is excited about?


As an innovator in the marine technology space, we’re always excited about upcoming advancements and features. However, we’re also cautious about revealing too much about our roadmap. Pioneering at the forefront of technology means that it’s sometimes difficult to predict how long it will take before an innovation is ready to be launched.


Despite this, there are some insights into what’s on the horizon for Crestron Marine:


The impact of increased internet speeds on yachts: The increasing availability of high-speed internet on yachts is creating a change in the behaviour of our end customers on board. Up until recently, you could only listen to or watch content or media that were already available on board. The use of streaming services was nearly impossible due to a lack of speed (and any solution we could offer was extremely expensive). The increasing availability of internet on board, through Starlink and other providers, results in a different media consuming pattern. That’s something we consider when developing our solutions.


Of course, the increased availability of internet on board didn’t come as a surprise to us. This means we already have the products and solutions available that answer those changing needs. One such example includes our digital signal processor (the DM-NAX-XSP) that brings eARC into the mix via HDMI connectivity. It’s such a small black box, but this addition shows just how far Crestron is ahead when looking at its product roadmap.


The Crestron DM-NAX-XSP is a digital signal processor that pairs seamlessly with any Crestron DM NAX amp or preamp. Among its numerous features, one that really stands out is the processor’s ability to bring eARC via HDMI® connectivity into the mix. The relevance of eARC for marine environments is significant: Thanks to the constantly improving availability of high-speed internet connections at sea, and TVs and sources like the Apple TV digital media extender and Roku® players becoming ‘smarter’ through the use of apps for streaming services, we see increased demand for a reliable way to route back audio to our central multi-room amplifiers without latency and quality loss. eARC is the leading method to do so. By leveraging this technology, Crestron is now able to send that audio to your DM NAX amplifier — wherever it is located — so you can play the audio in any room with optimum quality.


The rise of fully colour tunable LED lighting: Another development we’re excited about is fully colour tunable LED lighting. We all know that no effort or cost should be spared when designing the interior of a yacht. With that in mind, it would be a shame to only use dimmable, standard spots for lighting. By integrating fully colour tunable LED lighting control into our solution, it’s easier than ever to create the perfect ambiance for any occasion. Imagine setting the mood for a romantic dinner with warm, dim lighting, or energising the space with bright, cool tones for a morning workout. We partnered with Savage Lighting here to create a highly customisable, easy-to-install and maintain lighting control solution for superyachts, Savage is the most prestigious marine lighting firms in the world.


Seamless user experience across home and yacht: As we hinted in a previous answer, the technology is such that we can now provide a consistent user experience for customers that carries from the residence onto the yacht. That’s only improving over time, and the fact that a client can walk into a stateroom and find the technology experience indistinguishable from that in their luxury bedroom suite on land is extraordinary.

Training and Skill Development: Can you elaborate on the specialised marine training courses offered by Crestron and their importance in ensuring optimal system performance and client satisfaction?


At Crestron Marine, we’re committed to helping create the perfect onboard experience. This includes ensuring that crew members have the knowledge and skills they need to operate and troubleshoot our systems effectively.


In collaboration with the Superyacht Electronics Academy, we organise AV training that covers both the basic theory and practical side of AV onboard superyachts. After completing this curriculum, crew members will feel comfortable with AV systems onboard.


We accommodate the need for ongoing education via our own award-winning training program and through superyacht-specific training organised with partners. People who complete AV training receive certification, which helps recruitment agencies select the best applicants for the job.


By investing in training and skill development, Crestron Marine ensures that its clients have access to a skilled workforce capable of delivering the best possible onboard experience. This commitment to excellence is evident in the company’s comprehensive training program and its focus on providing practical, hands-on training that meets the specific needs of the marine industry.


Strategic Collaborations: Are there any notable partnerships or collaborations that have been particularly impactful for Crestron Marine, and how do they enhance the offerings for clients?


At Crestron Marine, we believe that strategic partnerships are essential for delivering the best possible onboard experience for our clients. These partnerships allow us to leverage the expertise and innovation of other industry leaders, expanding our offerings and providing our clients with access to a wider range of solutions.


Daniel highlights some notable partnerships that have been particularly impactful for Crestron Marine:


Long-Standing Partnerships: We have long-standing partnerships with companies like Kaleidescape, ensuring that our systems always support the latest versions of their products and vice versa. This seamless integration provides our clients with a smooth and enjoyable entertainment experience.


Partnerships for Specialised Functionalities: We also forge partnerships to add functionalities to our systems that are very specific to the yachting market. For example, we partner with Call Systems Technology to offer crew call solutions that are tailored to the unique needs of superyachts. These partnerships make our ecosystem bigger and more complete, allowing us to offer solutions that address all aspects of the onboard experience.


Seamless Integration and Support: Daniel emphasises the benefits of these partnerships: Without any hassle or the need to think about protocols or programming code, our integrators can make these partner products function as part of our ecosystem. This allows our clients to benefit from the advantages of these specialised solutions without any compatibility issues. Our tech support team also has a deep understanding of these partner products, thanks to the official Crestron drivers and other resources we provide. This ensures that our clients receive comprehensive support for their entire system, regardless of which components they choose.


Partnerships enhance the company’s offerings by providing access to specialised functionalities, seamless integration, and comprehensive support. By leveraging the expertise of its partners, Crestron Marine ensures that its clients have access to the best possible onboard experience, tailored to their specific needs and preferences.


Environmental Considerations: With increasing emphasis on sustainability and environmental conservation, how does Crestron Marine incorporate eco-friendly practices or solutions in its offerings?


We’re extremely committed to sustainability and environmental conservation and we incorporate eco-friendly practices and solutions into our offerings in several ways.


Smart Integrations for Energy Conservation:


Our dealers and partners are very knowledgeable when it comes to customising scenes — whether completely automated or delivered with the touch of a single button. This is a huge part of the success of control systems: The end user never really has to think about it. But it’s how these also affect and have an impact on energy consumption that adds even more value. Two of the biggest energy consumers on board a yacht are HVAC and lighting. At Crestron, we’ve been developing control and automation for years now, so we know how to get the best out of the system whilst being incredibly efficient. For example, allowing for the HVAC to turn to eco mode and lights to turn off when rooms are empty are just the basics, ‘low hanging fruit’ for those striving to conserve energy onboard. But we can do so much more.


Leveraging the Control of Power Onboard:


The rise of different power generation and conservation systems — including hydrogen — increases the need to exchange information between different systems. This is another thing that Crestron has a lot of experience in. For example, you can program your yacht so major energy consumers turn on when the battery is full, or to close the blinds when the sun is shining on the windows, so the HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard.


At Crestron, we also take a critical look at the AV system and its consumption and are constantly developing solutions that ensure that some major energy consumers become redundant. Modern AV receivers, for instance, weigh a lot, take up a lot of space, and consume a lot of power, even in standby. They do offer loads of different types of connectors and functionalities in return. However, marine projects often only need one HDMI connector. Our solutions take up less space and consume less energy while offering the same quality experience.


Crestron Marine’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its focus on developing the smartest solutions, leveraging new technologies, and always looking at energy efficiency. By prioritising environmental considerations, Crestron Marine helps its clients reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future for the marine industry.


Personal Insights: Given your experience and insights into the maritime sector, what do you believe sets Crestron Marine apart from other marine technology solutions in the market?


Given my experience and insights into the maritime sector, I believe several factors set Crestron Marine apart from other marine technology solutions in the market. We’re very proud of the depth of our portfolio thanks to our experience in both residential and commercial environments, including military and healthcare deployments. In these demanding environments, reliability and security are paramount, and conditions might be less than optimal. Just think of our DM NVX AV-over-IP solution, control solutions, eARC for audio, user interfaces, and more.


At the same time, our R&D department loves challenges. They are eager to design solutions specifically for the marine sector. We already touched on the benefits of our global presence, including support and training, which is extremely beneficial for the international character of marine projects.


Our scale — and the scale of our network — also gives us early access to important and direct insights into what customers want and what other manufacturers are working on. As a result, we can develop new, cutting-edge products or new applications for existing products that anticipate client demands.


Ultimately, I believe our commitment to innovation, customer satisfaction, and understanding the unique needs of the marine industry set us apart. We’re constantly striving to develop solutions that enhance the onboard experience for our clients, and we’re always open to feedback and collaboration to ensure that we remain at the forefront of marine technology.

In Association with:

Kaleidescape is the premier digital provider of movies, offering unparalleled audio and video quality. With lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS audio, and video bitrates 10x higher than typical streaming services, Kaleidescape ensures a cinematic experience like no other. Their platform integrates with home automation systems for a seamless theater experience, elevating the standard for home entertainment.


Call Systems Technology (CST) specializes in advanced communication and critical alert solutions. With over 25 years of experience, CST offers wireless call points, critical alert messaging, call button solutions, paging systems, and two-way radios. Their innovative Gen2 messaging and alarm monitoring software enhances efficiency and safety across various sectors. CST’s solutions improve communication, productivity, and customer service globally.


Savage Lighting specializes in bespoke lighting solutions for yachts, cruise ships, and commercial spaces. Offering interior and exterior lighting, they focus on custom designs and high-quality materials. Their expertise includes integration with advanced control systems like Lutron and Crestron, ensuring optimal functionality and aesthetic appeal. Savage Lighting is dedicated to delivering durable, innovative lighting solutions tailored to specific client needs.