The Online Boating and Maritime Exhibition

#4 - Live from METS

Next Generation Connectivity at Sea


Monitoring a boat has been significantly expanding with owners now able to monitor vessels from their phone or iPad thanks to apps.

Choosing a technical solution is not always easy, but the development of ‘smart boating solutions’ is making that process and the task of monitoring boats a little less complicated.

One such company, Digital Yacht, has stepped up along with Signal K to produce a platform called iKommunicate, that will allow web and app developers to do more for the boating industry.

Signal K: The Next Big Thing

Courtesy of Digital Yacht

Courtesy of Digital Yacht

The open data platform Signal K is heralded by some as the next step in marine data exchange for the industry. Signal K will not just be able to support communications between instruments and sensors onboard, but will also allow data sharing between multiple boats, aids to navigation, ports, and marina’s docking, thanks to its open data format.

To achieve that, iKommunicate is creating an “intelligent” gateway, able to turn standard NMEA data into HTML5-based Internet data, thanks to the Signal K project.

NMEA Challenges

iKommunicate uses NMEA 0183 data standards and the more recent NMEA 2000 standards in its product development. However, the company highlights that there are both legal and technical challenges for interfacing with these standards. In today’s connected world, these older, closed data standards struggle to adequately support smart devices and smart data.

David Sumpner, CTO of Digital Yacht, the company behind iKommunicate, highlights the challenges of modern app developers working the NMEA standards as: “The NMEA is a trade association that looks after the dealers and manufacturers and the owners. The costs involved in getting a product NMEA registered is very high and you have to become a member.”

Sumpner adds about the future of the open platform: “There will be an explosion of apps and solutions on the market and the Signal K solution will allow technology to open up.”

i-Captain Designer

Adding to the app technology development, Holonix, part of the Milan Polytechnic University, brought its own solution to the market in the form of i-Captain for small boats and yachts, along with the i-Captain Management System for larger boats and i-Captain Designer that will be launched this year.

Designer has been developed to maximize the use of gathered data. i-Captain Designer can obtain anonymized data in relation to boat usage values, which then can be inputted for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling, which is done in partnership with Cineca, an Italian super-computing center.

About the Author

Samantha Fisk worked at RINA (The Royal Institution of Naval Architects) for 7 years and has now gone into freelance, working for European magazines.

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