Fish Gate 100, the IBEX launch
I got such a kick out of these guys. Not only did they come to IBEX with an exceptionally innovative new product, but they seemed to confirm a couple of my pet theories. One is that even a tiny startup company still has a chance in the marine electronics industry. And the other -- which is definitely related -- is that NMEA 2000 can make it easier to develop new products which are usefully unique while still leveraging off and/or integrating with, existing systems...
In fact, I was wandering around the large horseshoe of tables that was NMEA 2000 Connect-Fest IBEX 2011 when I first spotted the Fish Gate 100. Hello, a fish scale connected to a backbone of navigation and systems sensors and displays?!? Yup, one trick the scale can do is to capture a fisherman's location along with depth and water temp when he's weighing and measuring his catch...
And the weighing is impressively precise. When I found Ron and John in their booth -- "just two guys from Appleton, Wisconsin" -- they showed me how the Fish Gate 100 could replicate consistent weight values even when tilted around. They also had a small weight they could pull from the fish doll's belly that helped confirm their claim of .02 pound accuracy.
But that's not all. Besides logging each catch -- which might help any fisherman establish valuable patterns -- the Fish Gate is designed to support tournaments where the prize criteria is the total weight of a contestant's best five or so fish. Using the screen below, you can see if a fresh catch should replace one of the five fish already tagged in your live well and make that happen. And since pro fishing can get darn serious -- like for bass, or crappies -- the Fish Gate is also designed to send its data ashore via satellite or cellular.
So Ron and John's initial goal is to market Fish Gate 100 -- at about $2,500 retail, a pretty expensive system -- to the tournaments which struggle with live coverage of their events. But the further possibilities seem pretty obvious. Given that they've developed the precision hardware and the underlying software -- and even, I think, a missing PGN for weight and length -- couldn't, say, a partner Lowrance or Humminbird MFD be programmed to do the data display and manipulation. (Yes, Humminbird now supports NMEA 2000, backward compatible too.)
Or might there eventually be an app that would let you take add a photograph and notes to Fish Gate data, and, bada-bing, put it all up on Facebook? More seriously, might not this integrated measurement system have value in research or commercial fishing, and help N2K onto those vessels? Ron and John's new company is called Beyond Measure and, though under construction, its web site is here. Please make them welcome to the wonderful world of marine electronics.