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Finally, a real automotive experience on the water?

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Navico will introduce at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference tomorrow a product designed to replicate the experience of driving a car with full-systems integration. The parent of Simrad, Lowrance and B&G says its ID display is a “brand-new category of marine technology.”

“We’ve brought experience of driving in a smart car to the water,” Leif Ottosson, Navico CEO, told Trade Only Today. “We’ve moved beyond displaying navigation data and digital switching systems into a world of integration that nobody else in the boating industry has developed.”

The race toward full systems integration for a “connected” boat has been industrywide, with many companies, from engine and electronics manufacturers to telematics providers, offering proprietary technologies to make boat handling and navigation much easier, similar to driving a car.

The Navico ID is a two-screen, bonded-glass display designed to be adapted by boatbuilders for specific uses. The display at IBEX is geared for cruising, with predefined modes that include system checks, cruising, anchoring and water sports.

“Our owners have been intimidated by our displays, and as we’ve built in more functionality, they say everything is way too complicated,” Ottosson said. “Now, they can push one button, start the boat and they are in cruising mode that displays just the information they need to travel from point A to point B without all the clutter of menus. It’s an intuitive system designed to be extremely user-friendly.”

System checks mode goes through all on-board systems before the boat leaves the dock, warning of potential issues. “Many owners complained that it takes 30 to 60 minutes when they get on board to make sure all systems are functioning,” Ottosson said. “This works just like a car, displaying a warning if there are any issues. Otherwise, the boater can just move into cruising mode and leave the dock. At that point, one screen shows speed, and the other is a chart.”

Navico has worked with several boatbuilders to come up with the easy-to-read modes, while designing the internal architecture so that the system can be configured for different types of boaters, including sailors, anglers and families. Depending on the application, ID will carry the Simrad, Lowrance or B&G brands, while being integrated with different electronics.

Creating the ID system was complicated because it necessitated getting all on-board functions into one integrated network via sensor installation.

“There are digital switching systems that integrate and relay several functions, but they’re just a subset of full integration,” Ottosson said. “We’ve moved into the world of full integration that customers have been talking about for a very long time. It’s up to the boatbuilder how many functions they want to integrate.”

Navico’s integration backbone, or hub, connects and monitors such systems as engines, batteries, bilge pumps, generators, navigation equipment and communications. It can also connect to the cloud. Ottosson didn’t want to confuse the product introduction tomorrow with its potential future applications, but he said builders could design individual systems with telematics that allows the owner to check systems and monitor the boat remotely, while also downloading data and images from sonar, radar and the chart plotter following a day’s trip.

“If your service guy wants to have a look, the system can provide engine data remotely,” Ottosson said. “It opens up a whole new world since the boatbuilder can now determine what they want to include in the system.”

Ultimately, ID comes down to making using the boat easier to use. “The goal was to make every boat owner look like they know what they’re doing,” Ottosson said. “They need to look like a hero to everyone else on board.”

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