FLIR ONE Marine Navigation with Boat Beacon and Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality with FLIR ONE

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 17.00.31Pocket Mariner recently collaborated with Practical Boat Owner to successfully complete a demanding night time sea trial of our popular Boat Beacon  app with the  FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS; a new, low cost , infra-red thermal imaging camera for the iPhone.  The FLIR ONE  makes thermal imaging affordable and accessible to a much wider audience at a fraction of the cost of the higher end marine IR imaging devices. Pocket Mariner have ingeniously integrated the live thermal image with their widely acclaimed Boat Beacon Augmented Reality mode providing identification, distance and bearing of the ships and Aids To Navigation in view at night and in fog.  We wanted to see how well and how far off we could spot ships via their infra-red signature and if the FLIR ONE could help with searching for a Man Overboard (MOB).

Practical Boat Owner, the UK’s leading boating magazine, bravely deployed their editors, David Pugh and Ben Meakin, together with Ben’s Impala 28 yacht , “Polly” and intrepid “Woman Overboard” volunteer, Laura, along with Pocket Mariner’s CEO, Steve, on a pitch black night in Southampton water.

Here’s what we saw.

This is a screenshot from Boat Beacon’s live AIS map view showing our position in “Polly” (grey boat with red vector heading 172º) with the “Morning Calm” cargo ship on her way out of Southampton approaching on our starboard quarter about 1NM away

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Here’s the view at the same time through Boat Beacon’s Augmented Reality view with FLIR ONE camera support – as clear as daylight even though it was night time. We could still spot large ships with the FLIR ONE over 2.5NM away.

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The Viking Constanza’s funnel clearly stood out when she passed us a little later:-

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Here’s what the Viking Constanza looks like in daylight for comparison (photo courtesey of Machi )Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 14.27.42

 

and somewhat ironically the Red Funnel ferry passed by , she really does have a Red Funnel 🙂

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Later, Laura, our volunteer “MOB”, dropped over the side to test the MOB capabilities of Boat Beacon and the FLIR ONE. It was pitch black.

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We drifted away.  We couldn’t see a thing with the naked eye,

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but we could still make out the MOB 30m away with the FLIR ONE!

 

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Just to be safe we were tracking her on Boat Beacon’s MOB display too.

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We and the PBO crew were suitably impressed.  The FLIR ONE worked brilliantly in the dark and it should help in fog and misty conditions too. It also works in daylight. FLIR ONE support is now included as standard in Boat Beacon’s AR mode including zoom and you can get the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera for iOS Devices from Amazon here now:-

Amazon UK                                Amazon US
              

 

And Boat Beacon for iOS is available here:-

https://itunes.apple.com/app/boat-beacon-ais-marine-navigation/id494877039

 

Instructions for using AR mode in Boat Beacon

To turn AR mode on in Boat Beacon Tap the “eye” icon at the top left, then tilt your device up to see a live camera of the scene ships and AIS aids to Navigation (AToNs) around you. As you turn round and view ships, their name, range and bearing will pop-up when they are in the center of the view and a yellow line will show your course if you have Sailing on. You can also tap on the ships to get more information. Tilt back down or tap the eye icon again to see the map view. Tapping the “eye” icon again turns AR mode off. You can pinch to zoom both the map and camera views. To use IR camera mode just attach the FLIR ONE camera to your iPhone or iPad and switch it on. There is a toggle setting on the view to switch between IR colour mode (white/yellow hot through red warm to blue cold) , and IR Hottest mode where only the hottest areas are coloured red and the rest is grey scale (with white hottest and black coldest).

In AR mode our unique “AR Lock On” feature lets you select a ship on the map view and then easily locate it in the Camera view using a grey arrow to tell you which way to turn to spot it when its not directly in view.

Your course over ground (yellow line) will also be visible overlayed on the camera view.

The horizon is set by the zoom scale of the chart view – e.g. zoom out on the chart view to see further out in the Augmented reality view.

You can try out the AR feature in demo mode. In demo mode a simulated seascape background is shown with the real AIS ship positions around you overlayed. In real use this is replaced with the live camera view or FLIR ONE view if it is attached.

SailTimer Wind Instrument, SeaNav and Pebble SmartWatch

Some of SailTimer’s customers asked them if their bluetooth WindInstrument would work with Pocket Mariner’s  SeaNav Marine Navigation app and if the wind information could also be displayed on our free SeaNav Pebble watch companion app. So SailTimer asked us.
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The SailTimer WindInstrument is completely wireless, no power of data lines, so the install is far simpler than for other marine wind vanes.  It is the first masthead anemometer  with a digital compass built into the wind direction arrow so you get true wind direction even when docked or at anchor. It sends the wind data via bluetooth and is solar powered with 24 hour running. The WindInstrument if fully weather and waterproof (submersible) and has innovative wind cup blades design to maintain equal accuracy when sailing heeled over.
Other key advantages over other instruments are:-
  • Wind direction equally sensitive all the way around;  no dead band at the end of the rotation as in wind direction sensors with potentiometers
  • The only masthead anemometer that works with rotating masts.
  • Battery uses advanced design for unusually wide temperature range from tropical heat down to -40 degrees (C/F).
  • Designed to work with third-party apps and hardware using the industry-standard NMEA 0183 format.
  • Transmits every second.
  • The first-ever masthead anemometer with crowd-sourcing of live wind maps.

We were impressed, so asked them to send us one of their WindInstruments to develop and test with. We added Wind Speed and Direction Gauges to the main SeaNav app and made sure the wind data is shared with the SeaNav Pebble Smartwatch too. Here’s what you can expect:- In SeaNav tap the top right IPC (Instrument Panel Cluster) button on the chart view to see the gauges and GPS status. IMG_0622ipctap

windinstruments
The Speed gauge on the left shows Apparent Wind Speed (AWS) in Knots and the outer dial shows Beaufort scale color coded with green being great sailing conditions and red being heave to and batten down the hatches.
Digital readouts of Speed over ground (SOG), Course over ground (COG), AWS, True Wind Speed (TWS),  Apparent Wind  Angle (AWA), True  wind angle (TWA), Apparent Wind Direction (AWD) and True Wind Direction (TWD)  are given. The GPS light is green when it has a good GPS signal and red when it doesn’t. Tap the GPS indicator to get more information.
The Wind direction gauge on the right shows Apparent Wind Direction (AWD) with the big Red needle against the outer red compass dial. Boat heading is shown against the red compass assuming the iPhone/iPad is pointing towards the bow. The Apparent Wind Angle is then read off the white inner dial.  True Wind Direction (TWD) is computed from  the iPhone’s GPS COG and SOG with the blue marker and red, port and green, starboard layline markers (assuming 45 degree best angle of attack ) against the red outer compass dial.   True wind angle (TWA) with the blue maker against the inner white dial, again assuming iPhone heading is correct. The dials also work in portrait mode.
This also works with the free  Pebble Watch  SeaNav app showing AWS/AWA and TWS/TWA and will also drive the watch even when SeaNav is in the background so long as SeaNav is in sailing mode (sailboat icon bottom left on map/chart screen).
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You can get the SailTimer WindInstrument here :-
and SeaNav for iPhone and iPad here:-

ShipPlotter AIS sharing to Boat Beacon and Pocket Mariner

Its very easy to set up using the UDP/IP peer to peer sharing feature in ShipPlotter’s I/O settings. See screenshots below. Select enable in the UDP/IP peer-to-peer output, enter the IP address 54.204.25.151 and Remote Port number 5322 (see area circled in red).

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Click OK when finished. You will return to the main program window. Click on the “Start” button and you should then see your data on this web page:-

N.B. If you would like your own dedicated UDP port number and web view to share to please email us at support@pocketmariner.com

Boat Beacon now has all NOAA US RNC (Raster) Marine Charts available

Pocket Seamless_RNCs_chartMariner were invited to help NOAA with their new raster charts service. We met up with them in the US last year and have been working with them on the trial. NOAA’s Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs) are produced by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and are designed for marine navigation, but can also be used as a marine base map by GIS users, coastal and ocean planning staff, and the general public. NOAA raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®) are full-color digital images of NOAA paper charts. They provide a consistent view of the marine environment, but with more than 2,100 individual chart and inset files available, finding the right chart at the right scale can be time consuming.

The trial aimed to create a map service of all 2,100+ raster navigational charts and their insets. The charts display as a seamless mosaic with the map collar or neat line—the information around the chart providing scale and notes—removed. Also, the map service displays only those charts appropriate for the viewing scale and map extent requested (from 1:5 million to 1:1,000 scale!). The seamless NOAA RNCs within the service are updated monthly and represent the most recent version of the RNCs and their respective Notice to Mariners at the time of the update.

The trial has been a great success and we are now busy rolling out the new service to use in our Boat Beacon, SeaNav and Boat Watch apps via a simple In App Purchase. This gives our customers access to all 2,100 charts including all updates. The charts for a region automatically download when you view an area and we cache them locally on your device so that they display instantly the next time you look at the map and will also display when you are not connected to the internet. This also means customers using Boat Beacon as a display for external AIS receivers like Digital Yachts or the new and very competitively priced dAISy one  ($59 – $41) can use Boat Beacon on their boat without needing an internet connection.

Boat Beacon on iOS is first out of the block with support for US NOAA raster charts. You can get it here :-

https://itunes.apple.com/app/boat-beacon-ais-marine-navigation/id494877039

Boat Watch iOS is next and we hope to have Boat Beacon on Android with US raster charts ready shortly following that. We can also add seamless raster chart options for the UK, Ireland, France, Netherlands and Germany – please let us know if you would be interested so we can raise the priority to get the work done – email us at support@pocketmariner.com or answer our quick 3 question survey here 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8CFCWD2

If you want to check out what the charts look like for your area before getting them in our apps you can use the Raster Navigational Charts Google Earth Tool. This is a Google Earth file of all the charts and insets available and is updated monthly along with the map service updates. Clicking on a chart outline gives you information about that chart, such as title, scale, and date updated. Plus, you have the option to overlay in Google Earth a collared or a collarless version of the chart by clicking on the respective preview link.http://nosimagery.noaa.gov/rnc/NOAA_RNCs.kmz

Here are some screen shots from Boat Beacon on an iPad with the US NOAA raster charts around Miami:-

Pleasure Craft Azura selected (note the track in red and our unique trip detail feature which includes departure point as well as the standard destination info – Fort Lauderdale to Key West).

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In this screenshot we have tapped on the mid channel Safe Water mark Aid to Navigation (AIS AtoN) on the approach to Miami (MIAMI LB M). All AtoN’s which have AIS available are selectable on the charts and will show distance and bearing from your location.

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You can instantly toggle the charts on and off:-

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National Coastwatch Barry now provides live AIS service for Mariners

Pocket Mariner and Digital Yacht have sponsored a new AIS receiver for the National CoastWatch Institute ( NCI )  station in Barry. Terry Ewington, the station manager, and his team helped us with the installation today and we now have a live AIS internet feed providing greatly improved real time coverage for the Bristol Channel from Bristol City centre across to Newport and down through Cardiff and Barry to Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast. The real time AIS data is available instantly for folks using our Boat Beacon, SeaNav and  free Boat Watch apps.

The NCI perform an increasingly important “eyes on the ground” role for marine safety, especially with the loss of many of our regional Coastguard stations due to centralisation by the MCA in the UK. The NCI have also recently been assigned VHF channel 65 as a dedicated  VHF channel to provide information and assistance on. Call them up on channel 65 if you are passing in the Bristol Channel or phone them on 01446 420746.

The Barry NCI station is in a wonderful and beautiful location at Nells Point with excellent views and a coastal path running past it. It is very well worth a visit if you are in the area or call them up on VHF Channel 65 if you are sailing in the area and need local information or help. You can check out the live data using this web link or on any of our apps.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

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http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

 

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New NAVTEX App for iPhone and iPad

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 16.30.45One of our AIS contributors, Duarte in Portugal, has recently written an interesting and unique marine navigation app that we thought we should let our readers know about. It allows you to view Navtex information directly on your iPhone or iPad without needing  an HF radio on board.  NAVTEX  provides navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts, as well as urgent maritime safety information to ships.  You can download Navtex for free from the App Store here:-  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/navtex/id1065285995 . You can also try out all the features for free for a week.

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There is a short video clip showing what the app can do here:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx-um26WoDE&authuser=0

and here is what Duarte has to say about his app:-

Navtex should be a requirement to any mariner, hobbyist or professional, regardless the type and size of vessel as it offers important Navigation Warnings that are safety-related while at sea.
Nearly 200 NAVTEX Radio Stations across the world form a global coverage network transmitting messages either in 490kHz, 518kHz, 4209.5kHz, 424kHz and 486kHz. 

At sea, safety is everything so our Navtex App will fetch the latest NAVTEX messages issued by the several official entities and present them to you whenever you want. 
You don’t need to connect your iPhone/iPad to any HF Radio. Only an internet connection is required. Synchronize and within seconds you have the worldwide updated Navtex information in your pocket.
You may select any of the available NAVTEX stations in the App and check their transmission schedule, frequencies, local data and latest important transmitted messages.

The Navtex Navigational Warnings will be collected from the internet and will be stored on your device, so you can read them even if you are off-line.

In Brazil, Australia and New Zeeland Navigation Warnings are not broadcasted via NAVTEX. However, this App will still fetch the latest Navigation Warnings from those regions and show them to you.

Additionally, you can also subscribe to APRS weather that is broadcasted by ham radio enthusiasts all over the world. It is a good backup system to gather weather information in case of failure of the vessels’s primary systems.

ActiveCaptain with SeaNav and BoatWatch


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The latest versions of our SeaNav and BoatWatch iOS apps now include the fabulous ActiveCaptain database providing on and off-line access to information on tens of thousands of marinas, anchorages, hazards and local knowledge (bridges, locks etc.) , as well as reviews from other boaters, shown geographically on marine charts, satellite images, or street maps. The ActiveCaptain coverage is global. There is information on Marinas and Harbour side restaurants etc. from around the world including the US, Canada, UK, France, Spain  etc. . If you aren’t already signed up for ActiveCaptain you can do it for free in a few seconds here:-

https://activecaptain.com/register.php

We found Jeff at ActiveCaptain really supportive and helpful on the integration with his data and had some lovely comments back from him on how well we did it too “The Pocket Mariner developers have been exceptional to work with. They are real boaters who get out on the water with their own tools.” Jeffrey Siegel, ActiveCaptain.

We look forward to adding more features and the ability to post reviews from our apps too in the near future.

Independent trials of the Pocket Mariner AIS Dual channel receiver.

With the help of a ShipPlotter user in Finland we have been able to run side by side tests of our Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver with a mainstream commercial brand AIS receiver costing over 3 times the price. We are very pleased with the results, with the Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver achieving almost exactly the same coverage/range/data rate of the well known commercial brand. Here are some stats comparing our Pocket Mariner AIS receiver on port 7018 (blue) and the other on port 5378 (red ) and screenshots at the same time of the coverage from the same aerial in Helsinki.

Rate of data received (bits/s)

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We also found that the coverage/range for both the commercial AIS receiver and ours was significantly improved using a relatively in-expensive AIS frequency (162MHz) tuned filter and pre-amp on the aerial feed. We used and would recommend the VHF Pre-amp from Spectrum Communications (formerly known as the Garex pre-amp). They start at around £15 for the pcb built one and around £50 for a boxed version. The ship ranges in the screenshots below is approximately 150km (100Miles).  The tropospheric conditions were good.

7018 Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

 

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5378 Commercial AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

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N.B. The buoys at the top of the screen (North) are over 350km away and most likely Synthetic Aids To Navigation being broadcast by a shore based station nearer our aerial.

If you are interested in having a Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver please get in touch with us at . support@pocketmariner.com

 

AIS Coverage

Our ship tracking network uses a global network of shore and ship-based radio stations, which receive signals from the AIS system that ships use to broadcast their positions as they travel. Our receiver stations share the ship positions with our cloud-based data server, which pushes them onwards and out to our apps and web services.

We are continuously working on increasing the coverage of our real-time AIS receiver station network. During the last two months we have added more than 50 new AIS stations across 5 continents bringing our live ship coverage to over 35,000 ships. We have supplied the AIS receiver for free for many of these sites and are now deploying our own Dual Channel AIS receiver which we have successfully had independently tested and proved alongside other manufacturers AIS receivers at a test facility in Finland.

Here is a  list of the most recent stations we have set up  and a snapshot of our global coverage on 14th May, 2015.

New volunteers are always welcome to join our AIS Network.

Africa

Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Asia

Chiba City, Japan
Singapore
Indonesia

Europe

Helsinki, Finland
Turku, Finland
Maasbracht, Netherlands
Ijsselmeer, Nethrlands
Ust-Luga, Russia
St Petersburgh, Russia
Edinburgh, Scotland
Over 30 new stations in and around Sweden.
Scilly Isles, UK
Isle of Man, UK
Lowestoft, UK

America

Prescott, Canada (St Lawrence Seaway).
Miami, Florida, US (2 new stations)
Antioch, CA.
Stockton,CA
St Bartholomew (Caribbean)
Dominian Republic.
Buenaventura, Colombia.

 

If you are interested in adding coverage for your area, please read our Cover Your Area information – we can often provide the equipment free of charge.

Row around Singapore Island (RASI), Mission to Seafarers and Boat Beacon AIS tracking

Pocket Mariner are very pleased to be sponsoring the  Row around Singapore Island  in aid of the Mission to Seafarers .

A group of 40 enthusiasts from the maritime and insurance community in Singapore have come together, to undertake a 24 hour endurance sea challenge, all in aid of the global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers.

Mission Row Around Singapore Island (RASI), will see two teams in ocean-going rowing boats attempt the 140km journey, taking on the seas and shipping lanes (not to mention two live military firing ranges) to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the island of Singapore. The event itself will be held during the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence and will also coincide with Singapore Maritime Week on the 22nd / 23rd April, 2015.

Pocket Mariner have provided their Boat Beacon app to both teams so they can share their position and speed during the event and everyone will be able to follow their progress on our live group tracking web view service.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/missionrasi.html. If you would like to add the view to your own web page you can use the following iFrame:-

<iframe src=”http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/groupwatch.php?group=MISSIONRASI&drawtools=1&embed=1&groupgetotherships=0″></iframe>

 

If you are organising an event or a race and are interested in having live tracking available please contact us :- support@pocketmariner.com