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Author Topic:   NAVICO Announces GoFree
jimh posted 11-19-2014 10:55 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
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.

The initial offering from GoFree will include the ability to:

--receive automatic software updates directly to multifunction displays or chart plotters;

--download the latest charts from Insight, Jeppesen C-MAP, as well as other third parties directly to the boat from the GoFree Shop;

--download a variety of apps to enhance your boating experiences;

--with Insight Genesis, upload sonar logs and download personal and Social Map maps directly from marine displays;

--view and control multifunction display/chartplotter screens on smartphones and tablets;

--have multi-platform support of content on computers, tablets, smartphones and multifunction displays;

--utilize dedicated marine apps from mobile devices;

--define secure user access for ultimate safety;

--connect remotely to view boat location and history.

When more information is available, I will append it to this thread.

jimh posted 11-23-2014 09:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
More details on the GOFREE announcement came in this press release:


New Branded Product Line Offers Extensive Content and a Powerful MFD-Based Store That Delivers Software Updates, Mapping, and More While On the Water

Egersund, Norway—Navico, the world’s largest manufacturer of marine electronics and parent company to the Lowrance, Simrad and B&G brands, announced today [November 18, 2014] the launch of its newest brand, GoFree. Designed to deliver content and services to consumers in the way they have come to expect from modern electronics, the GoFree brand for use with Lowrance, Simrad and B&G Multifunction Displays (MFDs), as well as mobile devices, gives boaters access to what they want, when and where they want it. GoFree products include all existing Insight charts, Insight Genesis personalized mapping service with Social Map community data sharing, BioBase aquatic map Software as a Service (SaaS), the online GoFree Shop which offers content from Jeppesen, NV Charts and more, wireless telematics solutions and the GoFree family of mobile apps for iOS and Android products.

On The Water

With the introduction of the GoFree brand, comes the unveiling of an industry-first innovation – the launch of the GoFree Shop within the User Interface of Lowrance, Simrad and B&G MFDs. GoFree Shop will provide the ability to download the latest software and purchase maps directly to an MFD via Wi-Fi, while enjoying a day on the water.

GoFree Shop revolutionizes the way boaters obtain content for compatible Lowrance, Simrad and B&G branded displays by allowing purchase, direct download and immediate use of Insight maps, Insight Genesis (including Social Map), and other 3rd party maps from GoFree partners. This ensures boaters have access to the charts they need, where they need them most. GoFree Shop also guarantees users are always running the most up-to-date operating system with all of the latest and greatest features on an MFD by providing automatic software update notifications, direct download and installation. GoFree Shop also allows registered Insight Genesis users to upload sonar logs to the Insight Genesis online service directly from an MFD for personal chart creation and Social Map community data sharing.

Available this January, GoFree Shop for compatible MFDs and navigation systems will require a one-time, free, software update, a GoFree WiFi-1 wireless gateway with access to a Wi-Fi hotspot or mobile tethered link. GoFree Shop will be available for Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch, Simrad NSS Evo2, Simrad NSO Evo2 and B&G Zeus2 series displays.

On The Web

In addition to the introduction of GoFree Shop on the MFD’s, the new GoFree Shop website will be launched which will support GoFree-branded content giving customers the choice of downloading charts and software from the comfort of home. A fast and ultra-convenient resource for discovering and downloading content, the GoFree Shop website will provide instant access to the largest collection of marine maps. The ever-expanding online store allows users to browse, purchase and download content for a compatible Lowrance, Simrad and B&G-branded navigational device via memory card or USB flash drive. To make a purchase, boaters simply enter existing Insight Store/Insight Genesis account credentials or create a new account.

“There are significant advancements taking place in the world of data, telematics and cloud computing, and we are pleased to be leading this revolution in the marine industry,” said Leif Ottosson, CEO, Navico.

“The benefits of similar strides are visible in both the automotive and aviation markets, and with GoFree, Lowrance, Simrad and B&G, will be able to deliver the most user-friendly products, with the most robust content, in the most convenient way.”

jimh posted 11-23-2014 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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.

saumon posted 11-23-2014 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
Another product that won a DAME design award at the METS 2014, the Glomex weBBoat 4G ( ), 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.
jimh posted 11-29-2014 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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.

jimh posted 12-18-2014 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
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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