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Posted on Feb 27, 2012 in Next Cast
New Vision(s)? More from the Miami Boat Show
by Chris Woodward

As promised in my Feb. 10 blog, I’m circling back to offer more detail on the new Vesper WatchMate Vision, which debuted to the public at the Miami International Boat Show, Feb. 15-20. In fact, not only did Vesper Marine display the Vision for show visitors, the product also won an innovation award in the consumer safety equipment category from the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Boating Writers International.

But that’s not all the marine electronics news: From the show, I wrote about Furuno’s impressive TZtouch multifunction display, which you can read about here. Plus, Garmin introduced its new family of thermal and low-light cameras and a new mobile app (both coming out later this summer). Garmin also featured a new steer-by-wire autopilot for Viking and Teleflex Marine systems and announced its agreement to acquire Interphase, makers of phased-array scanning sonar technology.

I’ll be bringing you more information on all these new electronics products separately, but first, here’s the skinny on Vesper’s Vision. Vision is the first Class B AIS transponder with touchscreen control, and the first to integrate WiFi via smartphones, tablets, laptops or other marine electronics, the company’s co-founder Jeff Robbins says. The display is also full color and features an adaptive “wheel” menu system, which recognizes which choices should be offered for a given crossing situation and boating environment.

Created as a dedicated AIS collision-avoidance unit, the Vision features a built-in GPS antenna, 50-channel AIS receiver and Class B transponder. Vesper also employs a sophisticated filtering algorithm that eliminates screen clutter and false alarms. To give boaters a clear picture of possible hazards, the system prioritizes targets and shows which pose the greatest collision risk.

Vision allows users to select boating profiles such as harbor, anchor, coastal and offshore to easily switch between pre-defined filter and alarm settings. It can display coastlines worldwide, and users can send mayday messages over AIS, track a group of vessels or friends and access “silent” mode to suspend transmission of current position (i.e. to protect fishing hot spots).

The unit measures 6.85 inches wide by 5.12 inches high and 2.44 inches deep. The 5.7-inch VGA color TFT display features resistive-touch technology, so it can be controlled even when hands are wet or gloved. Because the Vision is still pending FCC approval, its price is not yet listed. Approval is expected in April. For more information, visit www.vespermarine.com.