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?
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!