Royal Caribbean's virtual balconies now provide people on a cruise ship with rooms with a view, even if those rooms don't have any windows. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
A quick riddle for you. You're on a cruise ship. Your stateroom is on the inside part, so no windows. How is it possible that in that room, you could still have one of the best views on board? Well, Royal Caribbean's answer is to team up with high-tech design firm Control Group to create virtual balconies.
"A virtual balcony is a very high-definition image that's delivered from a digital camera to an 80-inch HD screen that is mounted in staterooms," says Charlie Miller of Control Group. "This is real-time video captured in incredibly high detail, real-time audio."
It's done with ultra-high-definition cameras, one on the front of the ship, one on the back, shooting in 4K, four times the resolution of HDTV.
There's much more to this than simply sticking a camera on the front of the ship and TVs in the rooms. Among the other things developers had to think about includes how to make sure these wouldn't make passengers seasick, or at least more seasick than they would normally be getting.
"When you're on a ship, your body is constantly moving. You're experiencing roll side to side or maybe subtle movements," Miller says. "We wanted to be sure that when we provide this image that the image is matching what we're feeling when we stand on that ship and our body's moving around. So we consulted with two scientists from MIT and Harvard, who helped us understand some of the considerations and nuances around how people experience motion."
One of the rules with these is that they must be on a wall that faces the same way the camera does. That way, when the ship moves one way or the other, it matches what you're seeing.
Right now, there are 80-plus staterooms on the Navigator of the Seas ship that have virtual balconies. More are being built on the Quantum of the Seas, set to launch by the end of the year.