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NAVICO Announces GoFree
|Author||Topic: NAVICO Announces GoFree|
posted 11-19-2014 10:55 AM ET (US)
Apparently at METS 2104, NAVICO have announced a new product segment or branding they are calling GoFree. Here is a bit of information from NAVICO about the new brand of devices and services:
The GoFree brand covers all of the cloud-enabled content and services that will be delivered by the digital division and its partners. These GoFree products and services will be accessible across the Lowrance, Simrad, B&G and Simrad Pro brands, using multifunction displays, mobile devices, and personal computers.
When more information is available, I will append it to this thread.
posted 11-23-2014 09:52 AM ET (US)
More details on the GOFREE announcement came in this press release:
posted 11-23-2014 10:53 AM ET (US)
The GoFree hardware and software protocols introduced by NAVICO were already quite impressive in their functionality. They allowed for some very cool linking of displays to hand held tablets, viewing boat data over WiFi, and other nice features. This latest announcement seems to be more about creation of an on-line store for buying cartography or getting product updates. I see this as something like the Apple iTunes store or the Apple iPad or iPhone Apps store.
NAVICO mentions that having the GoFree store will allow boaters to buy charts or get updates WHERE they need them, which I assume means when they are operating their chart plotter at sea. The store will only be available at sea if the boat happens to be in range of a WiFi hot spot on shore that has an internet connection, or if the boat happens to have its own radio connection to the internet via a data modem that has been configured to act as a gateway.
I tend to purchase the digital charts I need before I go to sea. Maybe that is old fashioned. The notion that I would be out in the boat, away from the dock, and decide I needed to buy new charts is a new way of thinking about cruise planning.
An advantage for the GoFree store may be in providing product updates. At the present, the usual method for applying a product update to a marine electronic device is by loading into the device via a memory card slot a memory card volume with an updater executable file stored on the card. This process can be difficult for some boaters to accomplish. The updater file has to be found on the net, downloaded by a computer, and copied to a memory card. There is some evidence that this process is difficult for some boaters to accomplish, as witnessed by the many questions asked about it in discussion groups. I suspect that the support staff at NAVICO has also received many inquiries.
The GoFree announcement seems to say that in the future the NAVICO products (that are installed on a network with a GoFree hardware Wi-Fi base and router that has been linked to the internet) will be able to be updated directly from the internet by their own user-interface and navigating to an update website or on-line resource. That may be a handier method of providing product updates, but it will put a rather significant demand on the boater. The boater will have to get the GoFree WiFi hardware, configure it to link to other WiFi hot spots or to some other internet gateway path. That may be more complicated that just performing an update via a memory card. Also, I anticipate that downloading large files over WiFi or cellular data modem connections could be prone to problems. Low speeds, loss of connection, and connection charges could make the process less reliable and less attractive than performing from land.
The general function of a store, on-line or brick-and-mortar, is to sell products. In this regard, the product update software is, and I hope will continue to remain, free of charge. Offering the product update via the on-line store seems to be more of a convenience or feature enhancement than a source of future revenue for NAVICO. Offering to sell digital cartography on-line via a store is not a new feature, but being able to buy, download, and install the cartography right from the chart plotter itself is a new concept.
posted 11-23-2014 11:23 AM ET (US)
Another product that won a DAME design award at the METS 2014, the Glomex weBBoat 4G ( http://www.metstrade.com/mets/innovation/Pages/DAME-winners-2014.aspx ), which is an internet 3G/4G/Wi-Fi antenna made with an integrated slot for a SIM card, may enable one to receive his upgrades, and also view cats videos, while at sea.
posted 11-29-2014 08:48 PM ET (US)
Here is a recorded presentation published on youTube that introduces more about GoFree:
You can ignore the first 48-seconds of random shots of boats. Then you can igore everything after 1:30. There is about 42-seconds of content.
posted 12-18-2014 09:51 AM ET (US)
As I commented earlier, I did not see a great advantage to being able to get on the connected Internet from your chart plotter while out on the water, but just recently Lowrance explained how this might be a nice advantage.
Having your NAVICO chart plotter connected to the internet while you are on the boat could be very convenient if you were trying to generate your own custom chart by using the GENESIS chart creation service. With GENESIS custom user-created charts, the user collects sounding data while on the water by recording it into a log file. The user uploads the log file, which has depth and position information, to a special GENESIS server on the internet. The server then processes the user's data into a custom chart for the area the user has surveyed and recorded. The processing time is now, apparently, said to be quite rapid, and the new chart data might be available only moments after it was uploaded. The user then downloads the new electronic chart data, and carries it back to the chart plotter, where it can augment the existing chart data.
Previously this process was accomplished by recording the data onto a memory card mounted on the chart plotter, and the memory card was transferred to a computer for uploading to the server. The server-generated augmentation data was later downloaded, again onto a memory card. The memory card carried to the chart plotter, and the new chart data finally became available for use with the chart plotter.
With the capabilities of GoFree and the new chart plotter operating system, it will be possible to survey and record data, then, from the chart plotter itself, upload this data to the GENESIS map server. Server processing is so fast that a few minutes later the user could then download a new custom electronic chart from the server directly to the chart plotter, and immediately begin to use the newly-created custom chart. For the user that wants this new data as fast as possible, the GoFree system will be a considerable advance.
Again, enabling the process will require that the user provide the means for connecting the Go-Free link to the internet. That is usually via a WiFi portal or by a wireless data connection ("Air Card") to a cellular network.
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