Boat shows are visual feasts. But as stunning as the daytime optics may be, with billions of dollars’ worth of floating aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber, these shows can be even more visually arresting when the sun sets. Sometimes, the lights twinkle and dance to the beat of music.
While there’s no question that LED lighting makes otherwise dark salons and swimming waters significantly more inviting, historically, creating and maintaining these warm and welcoming lumens took effort, likely across multiple discrete systems.
Now, Lumishore’s Command Center makes creating the right above- or below-water ambience about as taxing as tapping a touchscreen.
LED lighting has satisfied onboard illumination needs since the mid-2000s. However, these low-draw installations are typically independent and controlled at the individual light via a dedicated switch and at the yacht’s electrical panel (or by a digital- switching system). Each grouping, such as running lights, usually resides on its own breaker. Although effective, these switches typically don’t allow users to customize a light’s colors without swapping out bulbs.
Lumishore’s Command Center is a game-changing solution for controlling all compatible onboard and underwater lights—including tuning colors and initiating effects such as strobes, sweeps and the Sound-to-Light mode—using smart devices and either a multifunction display or Lumishore’s dedicated touchscreen.
At the core of Lumishore’s digital controls is the Lumi-Link Command Center, a black-box module that delivers a browser-based application-programming interface for controlling Lumishore’s EOS underwater lights and above-the-waterline Lux Lighting systems. An Ethernet port is fitted to one end of the rectangular-shaped Command Center, allowing the device to be networked to an MFD or Lumishore display. The Command Center’s other end has three hardwired connections that go to the networked lights or downstream hubs (think: waterproof junction boxes), drivers, or networking modules. Each Lumi-Link Command Center ($880) also has an SD-card slot, enabling software upgrades.
“The Command Center is the brains of the operations,” says Chris Myers, Lumishore’s sales director for the Americas. “It’s got the processing power of a large computer.”
Networked MFDs and dedicated Lumishore displays access and control the API via hardwired Ethernet connections. Built-in Wi-Fi means control can be shared with networked smart devices that connect directly with the API via a web browser (see sidebar).
The dedicated Lumishore display that works with the system—for yachtsmen who don’t want to use an MFD—is the EOS STV 2204-i ($400). This sleek, glass-bridge display has a rotary dial and a 3.5-inch color touchscreen running the same Lumishore-built graphical user interface users would otherwise access on networked MFDs or smart devices. The display’s interface lets users choose their favorite color palettes for Lumishore’s full-color lights, create color presets, set user preferences and select preprogrammed lighting modes. However, the display doesn’t deliver any additional functionality over an MFD or wireless device.
“It acts, looks and works the same,” Myers says, adding that while it can sometimes be tricky to run the user interface on a smaller smartphone, “it’s easy on a 24-inch Garmin MFD.”
If this sounds like a lot of software talk from a company that made its name building underwater LED lights, you’re on the right track.
“Recently, we’ve been focusing on connected systems that enhance onboard moods and experiences,” Myers says. “The Command Center speaks the right lighting language—DMX—and this allows for diagnostics, zone control, or if they want to light up their boat with red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, the Command Center lets [owners] control and tune the colors of their individual lights.”
Users can also set their above- and below-water lights in crowd-pleasing patterns such as cycles, strobes and sweeps, and can control Lumishore’s Sound-to-Light feature, which, with a screen tap, displays colors based on the music’s highs and lows.
“We’re really proud of this feature,” Myers says, adding that for times when there’s no music being played, users can select background colors.
Lumishore makes three types of underwater lights, including single-color versions controlled using a standard switch; dual-color lights that typically use a hub and a Lumishore switch, and can be controlled from an MFD; and full-color lights controlled via the Lumishore Command Center, an EOS STV 2204-i display and/or an MFD. Each setup is available in a variety of through-hull and surface-mounted configurations and—for the superyacht crowd—welded-in housings.
“To have a successful lighting system, you need really good hardware and software,” says Myers, adding that “one can’t outshine the other and be successful.”
That philosophy also holds true for above-water lighting, which is why Lumishore’s Lux Lighting products provide the same LED solutions in courtesy-, down- and strip-lighting applications.
In addition to complementary software and hardware, factors such as beam angles also play a role in creating a successful installation, especially below the waterline. Myers says beam angles work a bit like placing one’s thumb over a garden hose.
“If you go with a wider angle, you won’t get as far a spread for the same water flow,” he says, noting that Lumishore offers 60-, 90- and 110-degree beam angles. “We tried to find the best effects that we could, without creating shark’s teeth or spotlights.”
While it’s fair to say that no yachtsman likes seeing shark’s teeth—real or luminary—in the water, it’s also fair to say that Lumishore’s Command Center provides the tools to dispel Jaws while delivering touchscreen control over onboard lighting and ambience.
As for differentiating one’s yacht in a target-rich environment such as the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, this isn’t easy, given some of the skylines and waterlines involved. However, Lumishore’s Sound-to-Light feature could deliver the right edge, provided one’s musical tastes are up to the challenge.