SRT, blowing the AIS doors off
In 2005, when Software Radio Technology talked about a Class B AIS transponder retailing for $500, I expressed some skepticism. But “good work takes time” (as I often say about my home-built home), Class B has almost reached that price point in 2009 (largely thanks to SRT), and — holy cow, Batman — wait til you hear what they’ve got in the pipeline. For starters, how about a small, high performance Class A transponder that will cost “well below $2,000” and will be available to client companies (SRT sells nothing direct) “at the end of 2009”? And apparently that’s as both an OEM product virtually ready to ship or as a two-board module ready to get additional features (like NMEA 2000 output) and/or be integrated into ECDIS, plotters, VHF radios, etc…
And that’s not all. How about a full dual channel AIS receiver with the “exceptional sensitivity…normally associated with Class A transponders” and an expected retail below $200, not to mention a go-anywhere sibling module that’s only two-inches square?
Or how about the smaller, and fully waterproof, Class B transponder below? SRT doesn’t mention its possible price point, nor a release date for the B or the receiver products, but the press release suggests that all these developments share some common technologies. Which leads me to wonder if Class B won’t nicely beat the $500 number by late 2010, about five years after it was ambitiously advanced. (Which is way better than my house.)
So should you be bummed if you already bought an AIS receiver or transponder? Nah; the good news here is that eventually there will be lots more AIS-equipped vessels of all sizes. And, by the way, I did have an inkling of these developments before I wrote last week’s AIS rumination. But I didn’t know about the press release SRT issued to the trade, and which is now in the public domain. I can’t find it online, but thanks to a Panbo friend, you can download the PDF here. Enjoy!