Investment in wearable technologies set to continue

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Royal Caribbean Group's Jay Schneider said that the company’s pre-COVID-19 research into wearables enabled it to 'boomerang into the pandemic.’
Use of contact tracing technologies and wearable devices is set to build on cruise vessels in the foreseeable future, despite recognition of products suitable for use on board ships being the greatest challenge.

That is according to Luca Pronzati, chief business innovation officer, MSC Cruises during the ‘Contact Tracing Technologies and Wearables’ discussion moderated by Susanne MacKillop, vp sales, TraceSafe Technologies on the last of the three day April Seatrade Cruise virtual event series.

‘Contact tracing will stay for a certain period, it is something we appreciate in supporting the operations of the ship… because we see the value and we want to invest.’ 

Suitability

‘Having enough time to proof the technology on board the ships and being in the production environment gives you an advantage,’ claims Pronzati, who explained real-world usage on board vessels differs markedly from ‘the lab configuration,’ in particular when products rely on Bluetooth and radio frequency. 

‘There is always a great difference between scouting… and executing on the field. On a cruise ship this is even more complicated to get the output and delivery we want,’ he added. 

Jay Schneider, chief product innovation officer, Royal Caribbean Group also remarked, ‘Despite having years of wearable technology experience on board our ships… labs and real life testing is one of the most important things we do.’

Passengers’ response

Schneider asserted that the company’s pre-COVID-19 foray into wearables ‘allowed us to boomerang into the pandemic.’

‘All lines in the industry have been chasing guest tracking technology for years,’ he said, ‘whether frictionless technology in terminals or chat messaging on board, to other types of communication tools. 

‘We were ready from a technology perspective, at least.’ 

He went on to explain that while passengers on board Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas are adhering to the use of contact tracing wearables, making passengers aware of their importance was key. ‘Even if it’s mandatory, things will break, people will take things off, so it’s making people understand the importance of it.’ 

He went on to say, ‘Having to wear a medical device isn’t enough… making sure it’s a multifaceted tool will help encourage its adoption, because it will have another form and function.’

Security

Pronzati and Schneider reassured listeners that data gathered through wearable devices is anonymised. ‘This is quicker in [identifying] the chain of contamination,’ said Pronzati, ‘they’re

not developed for marketing purposes [and] we have the right protocols and procedures in place to protect the data.’ 

He concluded that wearable technology was enabling MSC Cruises to ‘accelerate what we were already doing and giving us tools we had in our toolkit to pivot in other areas.’

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