Panbo

DeLorme inReach, the Iridium 9602 almost surfaces

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 8, 2011
DeLorme_inReach_prototype.jpg

Impatient me was beginning to wonder if the intriguing Iridium 9602 short burst data modem would ever materialize into a useful product. The Cerberus communicator and service I discussed in January is supposed "to arrive" for real in 7 days, but it's gotten zero marketing so far, and I haven't heard about any other 9602-based devices that might seriously appeal to boaters until yesterday. And, in fact, even the DeLorme inReach isn't scheduled to ship until Fall. But it certainly looks neat...

As in a $250 standalone global SOS and tracking device that can also do two way messaging when connected via Bluetooth to an apps phone or tablet, or to DeLorme's own Earthmate PN-60w.  As in the existing DeLorme/Spot system, except with longer messages, faster response, greater range, and probably more reliability. The main source of info so far -- and a rather neat way to preview a product -- seems to be a DeLorme inReach blog entry written by one of the designers, who is also answering questions from commenters. Details I noticed was that the communicator itself is less than five inches tall, antenna included, and runs on two AA batteries. The tracking interval can customized, and the message includes SOG, COG, and altitude. And that slider and SOS button means it will be hard to accidentally call out the calvary, apparently a standard for SENDs (satellite emergency notification devices) established by the ProTECTS Alliance I wrote about in December...

DeLorme_inReach_prototype_full_size.jpg

The DeLorme blog is also showing off the Android app that runs with the inReach (like Spot Connect), and it looks quite able. Of course commenters are expressing strong interest in iOS apps and I have little doubt that DeLorme will oblige. I suspect that biggest possible issue with inReach, and maybe all the Iridium 9602 devices to come, may be service costs. DeLorme mentions a $10 a month minimum but doesn't detail what that gets you or other possible gotcha's like charges to suspend and renew service. So what do you all think; could DeLorme become a player in the marine world with inReach?

DeLorme_inReach_Android_app.jpg

Comments

Another example of an Iridium 9602-based device is the Yellow Brick. See:

http://www.yellowbrick-tracking.com/?page_id=408

It seems very nice, but is pricey (purchase cost and service).

If DeLorme can produce the inReach at the price you mention, it will be very attractive.

Bob

Posted by: Bob Hinden at June 8, 2011 9:43 PM | Reply

This looks very good indeed.

I only wish the marketing people hadn't come up with "GPS Communicator" as it is a GPS with a communicator via Iridium, not a communicator via GPS.

Posted by: Kees at June 9, 2011 4:06 AM | Reply

Ben, your final question can be answered several ways, IMO:

Search Delorme at westmarine.com -- you get six hits for Navionics chips compatible with Delorme. Search Defender -- you get zero hits.

Until Delorme makes a strategic decision to elbow its way into the core of the marine market, which takes money, and expertise, they will be an edge player.

The market place isn't kind to outfits on the edge looking in. Absent a disruptive technology (eg,iPhone) sales seldom justify the product development costs. Companies out on the rim of a market have to buy in to get in. Luckily for Delorme they have a pretty good balance sheet and they can afford to penetrate the market. Big question is do they really want to, and do they have the expertise not to make a hash of it (not talking about this product specifically)? Your own comments on product roll out are telling.

This looks like a product vs product contest. Spot has market recognition and a special relationship with the major retailer. Delorme has an interesting idea and and no significant market sector recognition or major marine sales channel.

I for one hope they succeed, we need more competition in this domain.

Chris

Posted by: Christopher at June 9, 2011 8:06 AM | Reply

This is pretty cool... way better than the SPOT IMHO.

Posted by: Patrick - sv Deep Playa at June 9, 2011 3:48 PM | Reply

I think you may be right, Patrick, but it remains to be seen. As matter of fact, I turned my Spot 2 on at 9 this morning, stuck it in my backpack, and here's a fairly good track of a wonderful day spent cruising Gizmo and hiking two nature preserves on Islesboro Island:

http://goo.gl/gvzL7

That Spot tracking map will go away in seven days, but I can download the data for a month, and unlimited every-10-minutes tracking only costs $50 extra per year. Just saying. Plus today I just received a test unit of Spot Connect, which I think can do a whole lot more than the standalone version. This is a very interesting niche these days!

Posted by: Ben in reply to Patrick - sv Deep Playa at June 9, 2011 6:14 PM | Reply

Ultimately , both Spot and Iridium SBD are very similar products, though technicallt SBD is more capable and the Iridium consellation is technically superior.

How teh User sees this is a decision by product manufacturers as to how they implement the available technology.

Globak track and trace is a growth market and this is a niche within it.

Dave

Posted by: Dave at June 9, 2011 9:15 PM | Reply

It turns out that there is another 9602-based SEND out already, but it's quite expensive both in terms of hardware and service:

https://www.track24solo.com/Home.aspx

PS: Bob, the Yellow Brick is not a SEND, just a tracker, and I think it uses the earlier version of Iridium's SBD modem.

Posted by: Ben at June 10, 2011 10:06 AM | Reply

Posted by: John Gass at June 10, 2011 12:31 PM | Reply

Dear Ben, the inReach is a stand alone unit which can be paired by bluetooth to a device. Development can resolve in sending a 160 character text by your MFD. Almost anything is possible with the inReach. Here in the Netherlands I have worked with the DeLorme PN60W+SPOT communicator. SPOT is now delivering the SPOT Connect, while DeLorme had this setup working over 1 year! Best regards, Reinier

Posted by: Reinier Zwolsman at June 16, 2011 10:52 AM | Reply

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