Onboard with Raymarine’s new ClearCruise Augmented Reality technology
I spent the last four days judging the Innovation Awards and then attending IBEX, the International Boat Builders’ Exposition. We awarded Raymarine’s ClearCruise AR (augmented reality) technology (press release) the award for the OEM electronics category, and I have to say I’m pretty excited by this technology.
I’ve seen a few gizmos like this before (though not marine) and most of them left me more nauseous than excited. So, when I climbed aboard Raymarine’s test boat I wasn’t sure if I was going to see a useful tool or a poorly stabilized jumble you wouldn’t want to use. Within minutes of leaving the dock it was very clear (no pun intended) that Raymarine’s implementation is well thought out and will be, I think, a genuinely useful addition for situational awareness. ClearCruise AR strikes me as the next logical step after ClearCruise, the FLIR IR camera feature introduced at the 2017 Miami Boat Show for object identification. Ben Ellison has been using ClearCruise on Gizmo and plans to report on his experience.
In the last couple of years I’ve covered a little shy of 10,000nm in unfamiliar waters. Shortly after we started serious cruising I bought a pair of stabilized binoculars primarily to help identify the numbers on aids to navigation (ATONs). From my brief ride I think ClearCruise AR will likely reduce my use of binoculars quite a bit and make the task of identifying ATONs possibly as simple as a quick glance.
The system is composed of three components: a camera — limited currently to Raymarine CAM210 or CAM220, with FLIR thermal camera support coming; Raymarine’s new AR-200 video stabilization system which contains a high speed GPS receiver, 9-axis AHRS; and an Axiom, Axiom Pro or Axiom XL MFD.
Setup is pretty simple, the system needs to know the field of view of the camera, confirm the horizon in the video image and the direction the camera is facing. The system supports both forward and aft facing cameras and switching between them is easily done. The IP cameras will plug into the back of an Axiom or a switch on the Raymarine SeatalkHS network and also needs power. The AR-200 is, I believe, a NMEA-2000 device with power and data connections supplied by the NMEA-2000 network.
With the system configured and AIS, Waypoints or ATONs visible on the horizon the system begins displaying flags above these objects. The range and an icon indicating the target type is displayed. If it’s a dangerous target it’s displayed with a red border. The icons across the bottom in the first picture above represent AIS targets, waypoints and chart objects, clicking each one toggles visibility of that object type. Currently radar targets tracked via MARPA can’t be displayed in ClearCruise AR but Raymarine says that’s coming in a future release.
Any object displayed in the ClearCruise AR view can be clicked on to view additional details. The type of details vary by object type but follow the normal LightHouse III behavior for each object type. Oh and if you’re wondering what the red exclamation point target is on the first image above, that’s where a man overboard mark was dropped on the Axiom system.
During my ClearCruise AR demo ride, I noted how good the images looked on the big 16-inch Axiom XL displays at the helm of the Raymarine demo boat, and I think that big displays is where this feature will really shine.
About the only downside I saw was when a tracked object was behind an untracked object. In the picture above the roofed pontoon water taxi in the foreground is directly in front of the sailing vessel Satori, though the flag for Satori is high enough that it was not too confusing (at least on the big display). But a couple of minutes later, as we got closer to Satori, a center console without AIS pulled between the Raymarine demo boat and the sailboat, and it appeared as though the flag for Satori was directly on the center console. There’s not a great deal Raymarine can do about that, though one option is to keep the range turned down on ClearCruise. Fortunately, range is pretty easy to adjust by clicking the range indication in the bottom right of the image and then adjusting as can be seen in the image above. The current cameras supported are all fixed cameras so range adjustments only affect the distance over which ClearCruise AR targets are displayed.
ClearCruise AR will be available with LightHouse 3.7, which will be released very soon according to Raymarine. The eyeball CAM220 carries a list price of $499, the bullet CAM210 carries a $699 list price and the AR-200’s list price is $499 (there’s not currently a product page available from Raymarine for the AR-200).