I had the good fortune to attend the NMEA International Conference and Expo, where manufacturers put their best foot forward and give dealers and media a peek at what’s new.
The world economic climate makes this a tricky time for technology companies. In spite of the culture of “develop or die” that pervades the industry, the temptation to stand pat with existing, proven technologies and hoard cash—or at the very least, save the bullets and not spend on R & D—is strong.
Instead, we saw clever innovation within the framework of existing technologies. Rather than pushing the envelope into uncharted territory (which can be very expensive and have questionable returns), companies are improving on what exists already, and making it fit better with the needs of its users.
One example of this is the Bridge Command series of glass-bridge monitors from Green Marine (www.greenmarinemonitors.com) (pictured above). While LED marine displays are nothing new, these have a 16:3 aspect ratio—the company is branding them as STAR, for STretched Aspect Ratio—and come in 19- and 24-inch size. They fit in spaces where a glass monitor wouldn’t normally fit, and give the helm a clean, consistent look.
Another example is the GOST Watch HD by Paradox Marine (www.gostglobal.com) (right), which takes vessel monitoring as far as you need it. An optional 1-terabyte Internet Video Recorder (IVR) compiles feeds from up to six cameras for up to 90 days, and lets you view the footage and rewind and fast-forward from a password-protected website on your laptop or smartphone. Here’s the elevator-pitch explanation: the device only records the pixels that change in the video image, so static scenes of a salon or stateroom don’t devour memory space, until the interloper comes stalking into view.
Boatranet from UK-based Digital Yacht (www.digitalyacht.co.uk) (left) is a Wi-Fi-based system that works with virtually any navigation system to provide access to the data in ship’s systems through laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It works at sea, connecting directly to the boat when Internet connections are hard (or expensive) to come by. One great addition: a ship’s log that simplifies the recording of nav data.