Technology Trends in Boating
Just as in virtually every area of our lives, advances in technology have had a tremendous impact on the boating industry. These advances have vastly improved the boating experience, whether you’re on the water or on the dock. Here are a few that just might make your head explode.
- Baby, You Can Drive My Boat
Or maybe the boat can drive itself. Yes, self-sailing boats have been developed so that you can sit back with friends and family while your boat navigates through the water with little or no input from the skipper. Roboat, a prototype developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, and Saildrone, developed with sponsorship from Google, are just two of the self-sailing models in the works.
These small tech devices relay messages to your smartphone that provide detailed information about a boat as you decide about making a purchase, literally turning it into a “smart home” on the water. Beacons also provide “synthetic vision” that allows you to navigate in poor weather conditions.
- Goin’ Mobile
Like everything else, the boating industry is catering to people who want to shop on their mobile devices. Boat-selling websites are the latest trend in the industry. Before long, most manufacturers will allow customers to shop online, and them close the deal without ever leaving home.
- Tracking Devices
Boat tracking allows the position and movement of the boat to be monitored from land. The Automatic Identification System uses GPS technology to establish communications between a boat and the marina, and even when you’re not on the water, it alerts you if your boat is unmoored or it is subject to theft and other mischievous activities.
- Digital Dynamic
The days of manual dials is so yesterday. These days, everything is digital, with touchscreen displays that connect to the engine, GPS program, fish finder, stereo and lights. The screens provide a variety of viewing angles, while digital throttles and shifts are far more reliable than moving mechanical parts. Fly-by-wire technology was developed for the aviation industry to be used in complicated mechanical systems, and it’s now all the rage in boating. Digital anchoring, where the GPS automatically holds the boat in position by controlling the steering, throttle and gear shift, keeps the boat still while you fish or dig out the fenders and dock lines.
- LED Lighting
LED lights are sealed to eliminate corrosion, and the diodes last far longer than filament bulbs. They can also alternate different colors, creating a cool atmosphere or providing much needed night vision when fishing after the sun has gone down.