Touch Screen technology – more than METS the eye

Marine electronics and navigation guru, Errol Cain has supervised the installation of marine electronic systems into thousands of Riviera luxury cruisers in his 27 years experience. In this issue, Errol talks about the new marine technology that was on display at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam.

Riviera Electronics guru Errol Cain has recently returned from his annual pilgrimage to the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam, where touch screen and dual touch screen technology is fast developing.

In this issue of R Experience, Errol reviews the latest touch screen technology from some of the world’s leading marine electronics brands.

Furuno

The new TZTouch 9″ and 14″ Multi Function Displays (MFD’s) are the first dual touch (as in finger and thumb range adjustment, similar to the iPhone) to be released. The TZT includes many features, such as:

  • Wireless LAN connectivity
  • Navnet Viewer App
  • Navnet remote
  • Detailed 2D / 3D maps
  • High resolution satellite images

However, I believe Furuno have limited themselves by releasing only 9″ and 14″ displays, but there should be more options when the new black box version becomes available in the not-to-distant future. One rather large issue still hanging over the new Furuno product is the inability to interface with, and talk to Zeus drive boats such as, the Riviera 5000 and Belize 52. This is also the case with the Navnet 3D.

Garmin

There are some interesting developments at Garmin, including their OEM supply to Volvo Penta for the Volvo IPS Autopilot system. It will be interesting to see if this is supported in the field by Garmin or Volvo.

The new 700 and 500 (750/s and 55x replacements) Chart Plotter and Chart/Fishfinder units were on display for the first time ever at METS and I was surprised by the functionality of such a small display, which is nothing short of astonishing.

Features include:

  1. Touch screen
  2. Built in GPS
  3. Built in 1kw sounder
  4. Radar capable

The Garmin touch screen range is now available in 7″, 10″, 12″ and 15″

Navico (Simrad)

Like Garmin, Navico have developed an OEM link and teamed up with Brunswick to supply the SmartCraft display on Cummins and Mercury engines. The most interesting aspect of the software installed in the VesselView is that, if or when any Simrad Chart Plotter (NSE, NSS or NSO) is fitted to a boat, the Navico software is unlocked within the VesselView. What this all means is that on the SmartCraft VesselView display, the skipper can view Chart, Sounder, Radar or even the BEP C-Zone control. A very interesting direction, and one that will make navigation a lot easier.

Simrad offer 7″, 8″, 12″ or black box solutions for their MFD line up.

Lowrance (another Navico brand) have also just released their HDS Gen2 touch screen range of products available in 7″, 9″ and 12″. The HDS Gen2 family also include built in Broadband sonar and Structure scan. All touch screen MFDs can interface with the entire range of Gen2 non touch product.

Another very cool feature of the HDS Gen2 is the built in SD card that builds an interactive 3D under water map as you travel along. This can be downloaded into a web portal to build a community layer map with many overlays available.

This is a great product for fishing up the estuary in the tender.

Raymarine

With the largest and most complete family (5.7″, 7″, 9.5″, 12″ and 15.4″) of MFDs out of the four big players, I did not expect Raymarine to launch many new products this year, so I was surprised to see the latest version of their “Lightning interface” on display.  This product includes full control, graphics, artist and title on screen for their Fusion audio integration.

I would guess that the next release from Raymarine will surely be a G series Glass Bridge make over with the new “Lightning interface” with touch screen. This would complete the next generation of product upgrades.

Raymarine also had on pre-release display the next generation of instrument being the i40, i50 and i60. The i70 having been released earlier in the year. This new range of instruments boast larger and brighter displays, which consume less power.

Airmar

There is a new N2K transducer in development, which will offer depth, temperature and speed with no moving parts. This will use a sonic speed to measure how fast a vessel is travelling.

Airmar have been extremely busy developing a host of Chirp transducers for Garmin, Simrad and Raymarine. The performance of the Chirp technology is outstanding and a giant leap forward compared with previously available options.

The other ‘stand out’ new technology, which was displayed by at least five exhibitors this year, was the Lithium battery.  This new, ground-breaking battery power for boats is still very young and very expensive. The batteries are lighter than currently available with greater efficiencies. Watch this space as this new field of battery power unfolds over the next 24 months.