By day I am a professional naval architect and spend time out on ships and boats performing shipchecks of systems and arrangements. I used to own a powerboat and have used my iPhone for basic navigation and tracking. The folks at Electric Pocket just announced a new application for Android smartphones and tablets that has been popular on iOS. Boat Beacon was designed and developed by a boat captain, Electic Pocket's CEO, and provides a rather inexpensive AIS-based solution for iOS and Android devices. You may find his story of the creation of Boat Beacon interesting if you are a mariner.
Boat Beacon is available in the Google Play Store now for $9.99. Features in the Android version include the following:
- Real-time “Map View” of both the user’s and other boats via AIS.
- Continuous Collision detection using Closest Point of Approach (CPA)
- “Compass” mode to sight ships on the map including bearing to and distance from.
- Enable friends and family to see the user’s location and course on Boat Beacon and Global AIS Systems.
- Current Speed, Course and GPS location.
- Details about other ships including photos.
- MMSI numbers to contact nearby boats via VHF.
Even though I no longer have my own boat, I do still sail on other boats and am often in need of a way to track vessels that I visit for marine design work. This looks to be a very useful application for mariners and I would love to hear your sea stories in the comments.
BTW, the iOS version includes a few more features, anchor watch and theft alarms, ship to ship instant messaging, and magnetic or true north settings. I am sure these will eventually be added to the Android version as well.