While BMW's optional Night Vision is winning raves for its ability to help drivers see obstacles beyond their headlights, I'd argue that the same thermal technology is even more valuable for negotiating a pitch-black channel or recovering a person overboard. So isn't it nifty that BMW's 70,000 cameras-a-year order is why manufacturer FLIR can now offer marinized models at prices we've never seen before? The entry-level Navigator, for instance, is $4,999. While its 35-degree view is fixed, the image is a relatively high 320x240 pixels and appears quite detailed. FLIR, the self-proclaimed market leader in this technology, offers other models with pan/tilt, multicameras, stabilization, and so on, all the way up to megayacht rigs.
This article originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.