SeaNav app, now with AR, GoFree, and Pebble!

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague.

15 Responses

  1. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Very impressive !
    Are the scratches in the watch as deep as they look?
    Any chance you can choose which sailboat sail you are using (or otherwise select a polar), and get the sailboats target speed for the wind conditions?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Dan, SeaNav doesn’t do target speeds but I suppose it could pass them along if the GoFree source was a B&G MFD that works with that sort of data. It’s also quite possible for iRegatta or another performance app to push that info to the Pebble.
    In regular use I’ve never noticed those scratches on my Pebble but they sure show up with sharp sunlight and a good macro photo. One may even qualify as a crack though I shower regularly with the watch on and also don’t hesitate to plunge it into a dish pan or similar.
    There’s a lot of talk about scratch repair and prevention on the Pebble forums. Apparently it’s not too late to make mine look better and last longer:

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I meant to mention that Pocket Mariner also has a free Web AIS viewing iThing app called Boat Watch that just added a Mac edition. Most people will probably want to make the $5 in-app purchase to get vessel details and notifications though:
    I also wanted to be clear about the possible differences between Web AIS and the real AIS transmitted directly from boat to boat over VHF, particularly in regard to Boat Beacon, which will try to do collision avoidance with Web AIS, and SeaNav, which can integrate with Boat Beacon.
    Internet AIS only includes the vessels that are being picked up by volunteer shore stations over VHF and sent to the various data collectors like MarineTraffic that Pocket Mariner uses for sources. In some places like parts of Europe and the UK the coverage is quite good, but it’s quite spotty along the U.S. coasts. It may also fail to receive weaker Class B signals even though the Class B vessel is near you and nearby Class A vessels are showing up fine via the Internet.
    A lot of boaters are confused about this.

  4. xavier Itzmann says:

    And here I had thought a Pebble was a useless gizmo.
    I’ll be getting one now, as this looks very handy.
    Who will be the first Pebble/GoFree developer to beat the Garmin Aquatix in full?
    Unless Garmin rushes out with updates, the unstoppable cycle of the independent developer + open platform will necessarily outdo the closed-platform player.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that, Xavier. Apple’s iOS is arguably not a true open platform, for instance; Apple sets tight rules, approves all apps, and gets 30% off the top. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. In fact, the result seems to be an easy, reliable hardware/app ecology that keeps a lot of users very happy.
    Garmin has lots of devoted customers for similar reasons. I’ve been testing the VIRB action cameras, for instance, and the easy interface blows GoPro away, I think. Plus remote control of the camera with the quatix watch couldn’t be simpler. It’s great that Pebble is getting apps to control phone cams and eventually one to control GoPro cameras but that will have to involve a phone or tablet as intermediary between Bluetooth and WiFi.
    Android seems more like a true open platform but while I still like my Nexus phone, I always caution people who are thinking about buying Android. It does things iOS won’t but it also screws up in ways iOS rarely does.
    I’ve also noticed recently that there seem to be few or no Android marine apps that can receive NMEA data over WiFi from GoFree or the various other providers. Am I missing something, and, if not, is there something in Android that makes this harder?

  6. Sparky says:

    Very cool to see this working. Note this was all enabled by open standards and interfaces made available by Navico (GoFree), NMEA (0183), Pebble (Pebble SDK), and IETF. What you have on your wrist is an example of the Internet of Floating Things.

  7. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Perhaps it won’t be long before we can view our boat data on google glasses.

  8. Capt Bill says:

    I think your mention of the differences between “web AIS” and real, VHF-based AIS is very important. I am seeing way too many people thinking that a $5 app will replace an AIS receiver for actual navigation without understanding the limitations. One must read pretty deep into the App descriptions/FAQs for the developers to fess up this.
    ON the other hand, it is great to see more and more navigation apps able to accept data from outside sources via wifi or BT. A simple transmitter (like Navico GoFree or some of the Digital Yacht devices) connected to existing ships equipment can provide better data to many of these apps than you can typically wean from an internal GPS on a mobile device. And it does wonders to conserve battery power on the mobile device.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    “Internet of Floating Things” — well said!
    I pretty much agree with you, Sparky, but I do like to point out the nuances. For one thing, GoFree is only partially open. The NMEA 0183 and 2000 data it sends are available to any app developer as I understand it, but sending data back to GoFree or using the Ethernet or video tiers involves testing and a license from Navico. I think that makes sense, but to my knowledge only TripCon is working in those tiers so far:
    Actually I’m not sure any developer aside from TripCon is even using GoFree N2K data, probably because there isn’t a standard way to encapsulate it. Navico is being very generous about translating native N2K info into 0183 and sending it out in what has apparently become a de facto standard. I think a lot of apps like iNavX can use GoFree partly because they can then use other TCP sources of 0183. Hopefully the OneNet standard will make it easier for app developers to use N2K, perhaps including via modified GoFree.
    I see hope for simplicity in what SeaNav has done but overall I suspect it will remain complicated and a bit daunting to many boaters for a while. Which is why Garmin’s “Power of Simple” will do fine, I think. For instance, I’d love it if any charting app could send routes to any WiFi MFD where they would then network with other MFDs on the boat over NMEA 2000, but so far I think that only Garmin BlueChart Mobile linked to certain Garmin MFDs can do that:

  10. David says:

    Ben – I think the Raymarine c and e series can also do this with the Navionics App – copy and paste from the Raymarine website as below
    Sync with Navionics Mobile
    Instantly synchronize waypoint locations, favorite fishing spots and route plans between the Raymarine e and c Series multifunction display and the Navionics Mobile app. Plan your next voyage right on your Apple iPhone or iPad and then wirelessly sync your route plans using the e and c Series built in Wi-Fi.
    I am assuming that once the data is on the Raymarine MFD it can then send the data over Raymarine’s version of NMEA 2000 to other MFD’s on the network.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, David! You’re not only right about the Navionics/Raymarine Plotter Sync integration but it was way ahead of the pack, on the scene even before any MFD systems had WiFi built in. But I’m not sure it’s as smooth as what Garmin came up with. I recall trying it when the first e-7 came out and thinking it a bit under cooked. However, I should try it again.

  12. John - gCaptain says:

    The pebble does scratch easily and the reason is that they should have used corning’s Gorilla glass (or the even more expensive corning sapphire that high $ watches use) but didn’t because they wanted to keep the cost of the unit down.

  13. Sparky says:

    Pebble V2 just announced … with Gorilla glass 😉

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Yup, Pebble Steel looks nice:,2817,2429049,00.asp
    but I’m not sure what I’d do if I were buying a Pebble today. I really like how comfortable the original model is and the only time I notice the scratches is when I look at this entry!
    Pebble also announced a Mercedes app that’s quite cool:

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    While my Pebble watch became an orphan quite a while ago, Navico Gofree is still going strong and a reader (thanks, Patrick!) is about to see how it works his Apple watch and Osprey Technical’s Watch Leader (also for iPhones and iPads):

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