Digital Yacht have developed a new, low cost navigation device for use with Apple's popular range of mobile products. Called iAIS, it wirelessly links a boat's navigation data to the Apple iPhone, iPad or iTouch. It also incorporates a highly sophisticated, dual channel Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver allowing compatible “apps” access to NMEA instrument, GPS and AIS data. The use of a dual channel AIS receiver design greatly improves target acquisition capability and helps prevent drop out.
iAIS can multiplex NMEA data that is available on board the boat - for instance GPS, depth, speed, wind etc. All of this information is combined with the AIS data into the wireless feed and dedicated NMEA/USB outputs. Some users have complained that the GPS devices incorporated into the iPhone and iPad suffer from jitter or poor lock-on, but by using your onboard GPS or even hand held marine GPS you will get substantially improved GPS readings on any compatible application. iAIS just requires a connection to a standard VHF antenna or suitable VHF/AIS antenna splitter.
Digital Yacht offer a free app, available for download through the Apple store. The iAIS app shows a radar style display of AIS targets together with a target list. Click on a target for detailed information such as identity, course and speed.
There are also some great low cost apps that incorporate charting and navigation functions. Currently, the most popular application for the iPhone and iPad, which can support a real time GPS overlay and AIS, is iNavX (www.inavx.com). Compatible with Navionic's charts (worldwide) and NOAA charts in the US, iNavX provides a complete set of navigation functions that turns your portable Apple device in to a fully functional electronic chart plotter. It supports waypoints, routes and tidal data and is beautifully simple to use. It can even overlay GRIB weather data. iNAVx sell and support this app directly.
The world's first wireless navigation data server – and with high performance, dual channel integrated AIS receiver
Provides Wireless TCP/IP, NMEA 0183 (38400 baud) and USB outputs (available for use simultaneously)
NMEA input and multiplex function – allows boat instrument and GPS data to be connected to iPad/Phone/Touch products as well as AIS data
Range dependent upon local conditions but generally suitable for installation on boats up to 30m without the need for specialist antennas
Fully compatible with popular Apple Apps such as iNAVx - turns your iPhone into a complete navigation solution.