SRT's 2011 OEM AIS products, a boat load
The AIS Summit began today in Hamburg, Germany, and SRT took the occasion to announce a boat load of newly available OEM AIS modules (download PDF here). Of course that means that other companies have to brand and sell the gear above -- or build their own devices based the same internal technology -- but I have reason to believe that in at least one interesting case that will happen soon, and, in fact, several of the items above seem like they will be interesting products eventually...
At the top of my list is the new Class B unit, which is based on the miniaturized Cobalt module we first heard about last May, and saw a photograph of in July. It not only claims higher performance in a smaller, more power-efficient package but it also has NMEA 2000 support built in. Given that we've seen some problems with the early N2K AIS devices, I was glad to get assurance from SRT that Cobalt outputs every standard PGN possible.
You'll see in the press release that SRT is also touting a new feature called "Rmax" which purportedly translates AIS messages into NMEA 0183 and 2000 so fast that the dual receivers in Cobalt and the various other new generation modules can maintain maximum range even in very AIS busy areas. I was also told that these modules contain "significant spare processing capacity on board to allow the implementation of new features and applications by our customers without adding huge cost and complexity"...
I will have some detail on what sure looks like a Cobalt-based Class B tomorrow, but in the meantime, enjoy a gander at SRT's MOB System below (click on images for bigger versions). It might also be called a Personal AIS SART, like the easyRescue I started testing last month. So far I'm pretty impressed with the idea of using AIS for crew overboard situations, and it may be that SRT has improved the possibilities.
Also seen in the press release is something called an "Identifier" which looks a lot like a full-sized AIS SART in family photo at top...except that it will go a week without a recharging and apparently it's tamper proof in several ways. I'm vauge on what the applications for this are -- maybe a quick, secure way to ID boats in a place like the Panama Canal, or during a group cruise? -- but it's nearly sure to upset those who fear that AIS will be misused to somehow limit their freedoms.
Finally, SRT has also added an encryption option (for navies and such) to the compact Class A transponder design launched last year, which can be had as the ComNav Voyager X3 or the Comar CSA 300 or maybe in other forms. It won't be available until 2012 but SRT is also showing off this prototype of a new Class A with a color screen and "full charting ability." Judging from the button icons, it looks like it may also have the ability to stand anchor watch, or at least a shortcut for changing a vessel's nav status from underway to moored. Hopefully both!