Information display and Ship Control, hands on with next generation boat management interfaces

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

20 Responses

  1. Bruce Rudin M.D. says:

    No comments on Boning systems that do exactly the same thing? Fleming yachts has used them successfully for years?

  2. More different proprietary buses on boats, more hell with servicing and upgrading…

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Time will tell, but whole boat system integrations like ID (when it’s used that way) will certainly be different. It’s hard to picture an owner upgrading to new electronics when that means modifying a big glass slab with displays bonded to the back, but then again who modifies their car dash anymore? But then again updating firmware on multiple subsystems may be much easier, though probably done at a certified service facility. I think that all these issues point to why smaller production boats are the sweet spot for this technology, at least to begin with.

      • Most modern cars don’t even try building integrated solutions, as consumers are sick of buying something that is expensive, not updated, and impossible to upgrade. That is why Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto are now the default on a ton of car brands, many of them the premium ones.

        I think as an evolutionary step, having a big glass bridge with integrations to other systems is a good thing, but I agree partially with Aleksandr – it should not be proprietary, and the vendors should realize that owners will want to upgrade the operating system and capabilities throughout the life of the boat. I doubt that has been designed in as well as it should be.

        • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

          Steve, aren’t CarPlay and Android Auto analogous to how the SeaRay ID system can control the Fusion audio? In other words, little to do with the hard integrations like digital switching, modes across systems, etc.

          Meanwhile the car makers are pulling off some really hard integrations, like how my fairly modest RAV4 can use cameras and sensors to control throttle and brakes so I can comfortably cruise control behind another vehicle. Do you think that feature should be open and upgradable? (As if there a snowflake’s chance in hell that Toyoto’s lawyer would permit 😉

  3. Charles Williamson says:

    My concern is that more people will spend time evaluating the glass helm than looking past it.
    Does anyone in the ‘know’ feel this will contribute to more accidents while ‘go fast’ boats are operating?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I strongly disagree in principal, Charles. Better data presentations and more intuitive controls can free a skipper to exercise maximum situational awareness. However, that doesn’t mean that the skipper will.

      I think that the most dangerous boat I ever owned — the 25-foot 25 knot IO Ralph — was also the one that probably looked easiest to handle in the eye of an inexperienced boater. It was an easily manageable size and drove like a car. Open water offers incredible freedom and the consequences of hitting a ledge at 25 knots are not obvious.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I can understand the concerns on both sides of this issue but I tend to agree with Ben. The reality is most boats present endless opportunities for distraction. The control systems we’re looking at here serve to focus the myriad different places controls were previously located into one spot that can be accessed without walking away from the helm or even fully looking away from the world in front of you. Additionally, these systems can automate tasks that might previously have taken the operator’s focus away from managing the vessel. Overall I believe that’s a real improvement in operator awareness.

  4. Bruce Rudin M.D. says:

    On the Fleming’s literally every function on the boat is integrated. It will tell you if the Mac light is out, or the amperage draw is off spec. It will tell you if the volume of water through any pump on the boat is compromised. The list goes on endlessly. When you get on the boat, there is a checklist of items that is either green for go, or yellow or red. The entire “preflight” walk tbrough is on a single screen. This makes you wonder why you dont have it on your own boat. It’s truly amazing.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Sounds neat, especially as the Flemings have such a great reputation for well thought out, reliable systems (and — at least to my eye — may be the best-looking motor yachts around).

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I adore Flemings and I’ve spent quite a bit of time on them. If money were no object I’d park a shiny new 58 in the front yard (or maybe in a slip). Part of what makes Flemings so spectacular is they aren’t value engineered in the same way most boats are and hence they’re able to select truly the best systems with less priority placed on price. The Boening system is very impressive but having seen how much effort goes into the commissioning and delivery of a Fleming I have concerns about its suitability for high volume applications.

  5. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    It’s also worth considering on the ID systems that the displays are separate from the integration hub (or black box in current parlance.). This means the integration hub could potentially be upgraded or swapped out without changing the custom cut glass dash. This would likely only work with Navico product since I’m assuming the connection between display and hub is proprietary. But, I do think overall we’re heading down a road similar to automotive dashes where, as the DIN and double-DIN car stereos were abandoned it became much harder to potentially impossible to just swap a head-unit.

    • I think this would be a great model. I would find it unlikely that vendors would adopt open standards like HDMI, etc. as they would cannibalize their own upgrade opportunities, just like in the automotive market where proprietary head units and connections to displays still exist.

      Of course you’re still stuck with one vendor, but that is not the end of the world. The trend clearly appears to be that all vendors understand that using a pre-built, already tested operating system (mostly Android) is a better way to spend their time than developing their own, and that accessing other devices can be done through semi-modern methods such as HTML5 and remote web servers. Both of these fundamental changes in how marine vendors are approaching these problems free up immense amounts of time. Instead of them having to develop everything from the ground up, it is more of an interface set of work, which should be far less effort.

  6. Dan says:

    The analogy between cars and boats is an interesting one, but one significant thing should be remembered; the vast majority of cars on average have a lifespan that is 10-15 years. A typical boat will likely be around for a far, far longer time. Boats are seldom ‘total lossed’, and who’s ever heard of someone scrapping a boat as long as it still floats, even the most run-down boat is on-sold to the next sucker! The electronics will have failed a long time before the boat is even considered ‘over the hill’. With everything integrated, the inevitable replacement through the need to restore functionality, or simply to modernize, becomes a pretty intimidating prospect. So potentially great tech for the new boat buyer, troublesome for the used boat market.

  7. James H Stradling says:

    Side comment (or is that – “snide”) . . . either way . . . my current truck had, as a package which I couldn’t pick the items, GPS included on the display/software. After a few years, the dealership sent me notices that it was time to update (and upgrade, I imagine) the data and maybe the operating system on my unit for a one time cost of . . .$$$ . . . really!!?? No way! I could’ve gone out and purchased a brand new (with life-time updates) GPS with better functions (since technology advances sooo fast . . maybe a Garmin?) for much less. Is this the way that we’re going now? First, I totally agree that comparing vehicles and boats is a little silly but not all that much. Some of these systems are definitely “DUO-able” but to what extent will these updates/upgrades cost the owner? I can see some real abusive groundwork possibilities . . . and what will the new owner think when he finds out that; “oh yeah, that’s the boat of his dreams but it will require and additional $$$$ to update the electronics because the previous owner didn’t want to spend the money since he was thinking of selling . . . . ” . . . hmm, a very real possibility . . . of course, that happens so some degree now but they are more easily replaceable than the glass bridge concept (as much as I love it).

  8. Jeff Cooper says:

    Horrible user situation currently, based on state of things. I’ve got a Scheiber Navicolor system on a new sailboat, and want to upgrade batteries and add solar. Scheiber says talk to Beneteau; Beneteau tells me they don’t have an answer. No input for me on how to handle updates and modification to OEM Scheiber systems or ‘secret’ passcodes to ‘integrate’ all this great data. Will end up removing it all and replacing it all with aftermarket – e.g., Victron or whatever, stuff. Great to be on the bleeding edge, but not helpful.

  1. July 27, 2019

    […] Miami Boat Show Sea Ray showed their SLX 350-R with Simrad’s information display (ID) and I had the opportunity to use and explore the system. Built on top of many of the Naviop platform ID integrates nearly all the boats system and gives […]

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