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MIAMI 2017: More builders using virtual-reality tours to preview boats

The applications of virtual reality are growing with each boat show.

The applications of virtual reality are growing with each boat show.

MIAMI BEACH — Attendees had the opportunity at Yachts Miami Beach to take a virtual-reality tour of the Hatteras 90 Motor Yacht, which is slated to debut next fall at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Scattered around Miami Beach, visitors could see people in goggles spinning in circles and trying to touch parts of boats during virtual-reality tours.

“Selling something no one’s been on is tough to do,” new Hatteras president Kelly Grindle said. “Someone who’s going to spend millions of dollars” wants to tour a yacht.

Yavuz Goncu, director of 3D technology for Baltimore-based High Rock Studios, said Hatteras approached High Rock to create a demo of the upcoming 90-foot model. A screen shows a viewer the yacht from the dock. Using controllers, the viewer can choose areas of the boat to visit and tour.

Though amusing for people in the room watching (I may or may not have been laughed at for trying to open a drawer and a fridge), the realism of the tour makes it worth enduring the snickers. A fold-down balcony on the yacht offers ocean views; users can look out a window to see the walkaround decks.

Last year, Sea Ray offered Virginia Key visitors an immersive virtual-reality tour that put viewers aboard a boat in high definition and took them on a ride behind it on a wakeboard.

At the March 23-26 Palm Beach International Boat Show, Fairline Yachts will showcase its limited-edition 50th anniversary commemorative book, together with an immersive virtual-reality experience to bring its Targa 63GTO to life.

The technology is not only enhancing the experience of visitors at boat shows. Last week, Trade Only Today blogger Norm Schultz wrote about his experience visiting Ohio’s Buckeye Sports Center to look at the new Super Air Nautique G-21.

Despite 20-degree temperatures and snow on the ground outside, Schultz was able to take the helm of the boat, hear Beyonce cranking from the six JL Audio speakers and turn around to see a wakesurfer riding a wave.

In 2015 Carver and Marquis offered a virtual-reality, image-viewing headset at a dealer meeting to allow distributors to see and control a 3D animation of the C50 Command Bridge on two large screens.

As Schultz said, it’s easy to get creative imagining the ways the technology will grow and expand and the applications for which the boating industry could use it.

“It’s a great sales tool we’ve got to mature the pipeline,” said Mike Fram, of Hatteras owner Versa Capital Management. “It shows off that the company’s become a lot more technologically advanced over the years.”


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