Is the iPad the future of marine electronics?

Is the iPad the future of marine electronics? Well, now I'm convinced it is.

When I heard that the folks at Outback Marine Australia had come up with a way to transform Apple's iPad into an integral helm panel instrument I realized that we're only a couple of steps away from turning it into the actual center of all on board instrumentation.

All that's stopping us right now is:

- A waterproof case that allow us to move around the cockpit without fear of water damage. Hopefully something nicer than this zip lock bag.

- Wireless transducers that send wind, depth, speed and temperature information wirelessly to the iPad. Something along the lines of Maetron's DST100, for example.

- And of course, a well designed application similar to iNavX that brings it all together, combines it with charts, the iPad's GPS and (this is the cool part) integrates weather and AIS sourced directly from the internet.

Of course, anything sourced from the internet would not work offshore and I haven't had a chance to test an iPad in bright daylight outdoors. But I bet that if (I mean when) all the above is combined it will be an affordable and practical solution for coastal cruising on boats of any size.

Imagine not having to consider buying two screens (one at the helm and one below)? Imagine never having to worry about routing wires through difficult places? Imagine having all your navigation information at the tip of your fingers from your favorite seat in the cockpit, the comfort of your bunk or 30ft up the mast for that matter?

Wondering whether Raymarine, Garmin and the like will realize that and jump into the iPad bandwagon. Otherwise, a newcomer may take over like Tom Tom did in automobile navigation systems.

I guess all we have to do is wait and see.

And as soon it's all available... Buy it!

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Comment by Marcello on October 9, 2010 at 5:05pm
I'm sure Pads and Tablets will finally replace chart plotters. They cost one third and do more. I'm investigating with OtterBox if they are available to build a water proof case that can fit into a cockpit. I'm sure there's a lot of people who would like to buy such a case. Raymarine, Garmin and all the others will never react since they sell hardware, not software. The winner will be the one who will be able to control the content (and nautical charts at first). Navionics and C-Map will win if they will be able to transform themselves form chart card providers to content providers. Otherwise a newcomer will take it all in a long term.
Comment by Mike Brown on June 7, 2010 at 9:49pm
I can't imagine where all this will be in a just a few years. I have an iPhone and am just amazed at how powerful a tool it is. The iPad is on our radar screen no doubt. We're at a point where we can imagine it and have it come to fruition soon thereafter. Very interesting for sure.

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