Smart Boats – Innovative Marine Technology

Why Consider a Smart Boat?

While there might be a lot of chaos all around us on any given day, we live in a “smart world”, at least from a technological perspective. Consider the number of devices that you probably have near you right now. You might have your smartphone handy. You might even be wearing a smartwatch on your wrist. When you go home to unwind after a long day and want to watch TV, you turn on a smart TV. There are even smart cars today. Therefore, it’s easy to see why having a smart boat might be the next step on the list of many people.

Some of the modern boats that are being manufactured today will already have smart technology installed in them. It is almost expected for there to be a certain level of interconnectivity today between devices. Without a doubt, this will continue to grow in the future for many machines and devices, including boats.

i-Pilot from Minn Kota
Photo: i-Pilot bluetooth controller, by Minn Kota

Even if you have what you would consider a standard boat without any smart features, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can give your boat an “education” by investing in some great smart devices that will work with your smartphone or tablet to make controlling the boat easier. In fact, there are many different types of technology available on the market now that you can use to create a smart boat. However, you may still be wondering how these smart devices can really improve your boating experience, so let’s take a deeper look at some of the advantages they bring.

Do You Need a Smart Boat?

While you might have been able to live life quite nicely up to this point without needing a smart boat, it might be time to rethink things. There are many conveniences to having smart devices that are Bluetooth enabled. All of those devices can be monitored and controlled through your phone or a tablet. This means that no matter where you might be on the boat, you will be able to control these aspects of the boat. You can get alerts that can let you know about problems sooner. Many of those problems can be controlled right from your smart device.

What Makes A Boat A Smart Boat?

A smart boat would be any boat that has connectivity that provides ease of use or more functionality. There are many different types of devices that can be added to a boat to help it become more connected, from wireless control systems and bluetooth devices to advanced navigation and remote monitoring systems. This variety of equipment is available to boats of all sizes. Whether you have a small boat, a large yacht, or something in between, there are ways to connect it and to create a smart boat.

Having wireless Bluetooth enabled marine devices and appliances that you can connect to your boat can provide you with more versatility. It is possible to connect all of these devices to your phone or tablet, which makes monitoring and controlling the boat easy no matter where you might be on the vessel.

Naturally, safety is paramount when you are on the water. You want to be sure that you have an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) that is able to activate in case there is a problem with the boat. You also want an Automatic Identification System (AIS). By having these systems integrated into a smart boat, and easily controllable, it has the potential to increase your level of safety when on the water. We don’t like to imagine that anything would go wrong, but it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.

Examples Of Smart Boats

Earlier this month Sea Ray launched the new SLX-R 400e at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, which received a lot of press as a technologically-integrated “smart boat” that boasts many new technological features (it can be driven via voice command, and has onboard lithium ion batteries that power it during idling).

If you happen to have a bigger boat, such as a large yacht, a host of other types of smart devices and household appliances can be used to connect to your onboard systems. For example, if you have cabins and a galley on your yacht, it is possible to invest in a range of smart appliances, just as you might for your home.

You can add smart thermostats so it is easier for you to control the temperature in your boat and systems like Google Nest and Amazon’s Alexa/Echo. You could also add a smart refrigerator, a smart coffee maker, and many other appliances.

Remote Boat Monitoring

Boat owners also want to make sure that their boat is safe even when they aren’t on it. No one wants to walk out to where they are docked and find that someone has damaged or stolen the boat. Using remote monitoring cameras is a great solution for this.

These types of camera systems are similar to those that you would use for security at your own home. They can allow you to monitor what’s happening on and near your boat. This can help to keep the boat safer and it can provide the owners with more peace of mind. You can check to make sure that you didn’t leave on any lights or electronics, and you can check to make sure no one has stolen the boat or items from it.

Some of the remote monitoring options, such as those from Siren Marine, will allow you to control certain systems on the boat. This could include battery switches, lights, AC, and more. This is nice, as it can provide more functionality for even when you are on the boat. If you want to turn down the temperature on a hot summer night, just reach for your phone rather than trying to fumble for a thermostat in the dark, for example.

Boat Tracking Systems

Advances in marine tracking and surveillance technology have made state-of-the-art wireless security monitoring attainable for nearly any size boat. Products like GOST’s Apparition system and NT-Evolution 2.0 satellite security package can help boat owners help protect their investments from fire, high-water/broken bilges, loss of power, intrusion, theft and more.

Digital Control Systems

Of course, there are also devices that can be used to provide you with advanced information about your engine’s metrics, battery monitoring, bilge and high water alerts, and temperature alerts. There are also options for digital switching, remote switching, and GPS tracking, as well. All of these features help to make controlling and knowing your boat much easier than ever before.

Many boaters are choosing to invest in wireless control systems – such as the i-Pilot from Minn Kota which delivers speed, steering, Spot-Lock, and the ability to record and retrace paths on the water, all at your fingertips. Minn Kota has really dialed in the technology for boat positioning and launched somewhat of a fishing GPS revolution.

Autonomous Boat Features

As boat manufacturers incorporate the latest technology into new boat models, advanced features like object-detection and avoidance and smart power management are beginning to play a larger role. Raymarine’s DockSense is the marine industry’s first assisted docking system that utilizes object recognition and motion sensing via intelligent FLIR machine vision camera technology to analyze real-world imagery while integrating with the vessel’s propulsion and steering system.

Given the fact that there are so many different options available today in terms of the technology available, you can create a smart boat that makes sense for your needs. Perhaps you only need to have a few of these different devices. Maybe you want to add as much tech to your boat as possible. Ultimately, the choice will be yours. Figure out what will make your life easier.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.


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