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Vesper WatchMate Vision

Price pending FCC approval;

Vesper Marine is a smart New Zealand company that specializes in AIS, specifically AIS filtering. Filtering is especially important when maneuvering near major ports and choke points for commercial shipping, when the plotter fills with so many triangular AIS arrows that a helmsman can be easily overwhelmed with information. As more and more recreational vessels install AIS transponders, the problem will only worsen. 

Vesper devices help identify only those targets that represent a threat with both a “proprietry target prioritization process” and user-defined criteria, eliminating docked or moored vessels. Suddenly the clutter has been reduced to a handful of targets. Select various modes such as harbor, anchor, coastal, and offshore to toggle between predefined alarm settings. Users can track a group of vessels or go “silent” for privacy or to keep a fishing spot secret. 

Vesper WatchMate Vision

WatchMate Vision, revealed at the Miami International Boat Show—and winner of an Innovation Award at the show—is the first dedicated Class B AIS transponder with touchscreen control. It doesn’t just provide a simple graphical display of target movements but uses Wi-Fi for access to alerts, alarms, and settings on nearby smartphones, tablets, or PCs—the first AIS transponder to do so. It networks via NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, or waterproof USB. 

Rather than a single chip, the Vision runs on multiple processors, including one dedicated to AIS and another to the display. A GPS antenna, a 50-channel GPS receiver, an AIS receiver, and a Class B AIS transponder are built in. Vesper says the backlighting on the sunlight-viewable color display can be adjusted “even when hands are wet or while wearing gloves.”

Vesper Marine has also introduced the WatchMate AIS XB-8000, a black-box version. Pricing will be announced after Vesper receives FCC approval for both.

Click here to read about another touch screen, the Furuno NavNet TZtouch

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.