Originally Posted by Strait Shooter
So what other improvements do you guys that are involved in this technology see happening both near term and in the long run?
First, I had multiple conversations yesterday with the developer of eSeaChart. There are a couple of bugs and I now understand why some people are seeing markers disappear when they pan the chart in his app. He only displays 30 markers at a time. So if you're on an iPad
and pan a little, depending on the location, more than 30 markers might become visible - so they get turned off.
When I'd been looking into the problem, I was looking on my iPhone
. Given the smaller screen
, it wasn't very common to have more than 30 markers so I didn't see it happen. iPad
users were more likely to experience it.
He's going to bump up the number - 30 is too small; the website cuts off at 99 for memory and performance reasons. Like the website, he's also going to provide an indicator when there's too many so you'll have an idea about why the markers are gone.
There's also a bug with markers and skewed charts
. It's just a bug and he's got a handle on fixing it.
Now, the future...
I've been developing the next layer of capabilities that are possible once you have a great set of point-of-interest data. It all has to do with merging a planned route
against the databases of ActiveCaptain data. There are philosophical ways to describe it but that usually glasses everyone's eyes over. Instead, here are a couple of practical examples - they all assume I know the route
you've planned and my software
is watching you move along your plan:
- What hazards are in your path. How far away is the next one and how long will it take before you get there? What should you do when you get near it?
- How far ahead is the next bridge that you need to have opened? Note that "My Card" has a place where we save your max air draft
along with other heights with antennas down, etc. So for example, we can tell a trawler
that the next bridge is 6 nm ahead (46:40 minutes from now at current
SOG) and that they need to drop their antennas to get through. Or we can let them know that they'll have to wait at the bridge and given the restrictions, should slow down to 5.1 nm/hr to get there 5 minutes before the next opening. Of course, all of these values are live and count down/change as you move along the route.
- Given that you carry 500 gallons of fuel
, burn 1.5 gph, like to have a minimum of 50 gallons in reserve, where are the best places to get fuel
along your passage
(a list of routes) spanning the next month of travel? And of course as new prices get updated, the "best places" might change - if one shows up within X nm of your location, you're alerted.
Those are 3 examples. There are about a dozen things like that - we've been making lists for a few years based on our own "wouldn't it be great if" discussions while cruising and listening to the thousands of suggestions we receive.
There are also some things that don't involve ActiveCaptain data that I'm surprised haven't been done yet. Weather
is a great example. It used to be that you'd sit back and listen to NOAA weather
for hours at a time. I know people who have a second VHF
just to keep tuned in. Then internet
access happened and many people go directly to NOAA to get the latest forecast
. At times now in changing weather conditions, I find myself "refreshing" the NOAA forecast
over and over to grab the next update when it comes out. That's crazy.
Given a route that I'm on (or one that's planned), the software
should go out and ping the NOAA site for me and let me know when there's a new forecast along my route and grab it so it's waiting for me. It'll give an indication of this so I can concentrate more on piloting instead of watching for that update. Obviously if there's a severe weather warning, there will be options to set off an alarm
to give me instant notification of it.
I look at this next phase as turning ActiveCaptain into a chartplotter
companion. It isn't for primary piloting navigation
- that's what your chartplotter
is best for - integrated to radar
, etc. I'm developing it for laptops and slates (Windows, Mac, Linux), phones and tablets (iOS, Android), and SmartTV (new TV capabilities that allow apps to be loaded) - these are the major platforms in my mind right now. WP7, BB Playbook, and webOS devices are on my radar
too. I intend to release it on all major system platforms at the same time.
What I find is that when I'm cruising along, I really don't need my iPhone
, iPad, and Samsung tab acting like another chartplotter. Don't get me wrong - I want them to be chartplotter backups and route planning tools - they are excellent for that. But what I'd really like while underway is to use all of these extra screens onboard to do more work
for me and provide new information that works alongside my chartplotters.
This product doesn't even have a name yet. It's a platform more than a product where new tools can be added one-at-a-time to provide new functions (hazard warnings, bridge assistant, fuel manager, weather scout, etc). The current
schedule has the first version being released this year. We intend to make it free on all laptops and devices. Many of these advanced functions will also be server based and we'll provide the capabilities to our third-party developers to add them into their product if they'd like.
In the short term, ActiveCaptain is all about routes. We currently allow you to import
, create, and edit them. Route sharing is about to be turned on allowing you to see the full database of everyone's routes to copy. A lot of people don't understand why we've been pushing the idea of creating, storing, and sharing routes. The reason is because they are the gateway to merging the POI data to provide the accessory/companion functionality that's coming next.