Sailors can now use their iPhones to keep a watch on nearby boats along busy coastlines while enabling other boaters and friends to follow their boat's location using Boat Beacon Maps and Global Marine AIS systems. The Boat Beacon app, developed by a skipper for other skippers, does not require an external AIS receiver or transponder equipment and provides location tracking at a fraction of the cost of an AIS system.
Boat Beacon was developed by Electric Pocket, the same company that recently made a big splash with the introduction of its Compass Eye augmented reality app for iOS. Steve Bennett, the company's CEO, sought an easy and relatively inexpensive way for his family to keep an eye on his location when he was sailing on his boat in the Bristol Channel. He also wanted a means of spotting big boats heading toward him, enabling him to trim his sails accordingly.
"A high speed craft, such as a Catamaran, travels so fast it can be upon you from beyond the horizon in a few short minutes," said Bennett. "An AIS Transponder provides the standard kit to do this, sending and receiving ship position and movement details on a regular basis. An AIS transponder, however, can easily cost more than a thousand dollars and doesn't have the ability to see over the horizon."
Bennett knew there is a large network of AIS shore stations collecting and sharing AIS data that an app could tap into. Also, most coastal and popular ports now have 3G or 2G data coverage - the UK has nearly complete coast coverage out to 12 miles to sea as do all the major U.S. ports, coastal areas and inland waters in the US.
Boat Beacon offers an improved and less expensive solution to location tracking for sailors. Features of Boat Beacon include:
* Real-time "Map View" of both the user's and other nearby boats via AIS
* "Compass" mode to sight ships on the map
* Collision avoidance using Closest Point of Approach (CPA)
* Enable friends and family to see the user's location and course on Boat Beacon and Global AIS Systems
* Current Speed, Course and GPS location
* Ship-to-Ship instant messaging, letting users to chat with other Boat Beacon users
* Magnetic or True North setting
* MMSI numbers to contact nearby boats via VHF
By enabling Boat Beacon's "Transmit" mode, the user's boat will appear on other Boat Beacon-equipped devices. With its AIS Sharing feature, the user's boat will also appear on live websites such as AIS Hub, Marina Traffic and Ship Finder.
Boat Beacon is available in the App Store for US$9.99. A real-time map of Boat Beacon boats can be viewed on the app's website.
Pricing and Availability:
Boat Beacon - AIS Marine Navigation 1.1 is $9.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Navigation category.