It’s a press release for a product I am super-enthusiastic about: The Vesper Marine WatchMate 850 Class B AIS transponder.
Let’s face it: There isn’t much to distinguish a lot of the AIS equipment marketed at recreational boaters. It’s mostly just black-box electronics technology. Sure, the packaging and physical enclosure varies from brand to brand, and the price varies, but they’re all pretty much the same inside, and they all do exactly the same thing.
So it takes a bit of extra effort to distinguish a product line in this segment. Extra effort sometimes takes the form of marketing hype and flashy extras that look good at the boat show or in the showroom. But once in a while, extra effort takes the form of thoughtful, innovative features designed to improve the user experience for the consumer.
That’s the kind of extra effort Jeff Robbins has focused on with Vesper Marine’s WatchMate line of AIS products. As I’ve written before, I’m extremely impressed with the intelligent user-interface software Vesper includes on all their AIS products. Invisible and often difficult to explain to potential consumers who aren’t propeller-headed geeks, the end result is a product that works better, providing the right information at the right time to help the skipper make better decisions. That’s why I’m impressed with Vesper Marine.
I’m not alone. Check out Panbo’s article yesterday about an as-yet unpromoted anchor watch feature on newer Vesper WatchMate units: Vesper Marine anchor watch, merry Christmas!
This is the sort of feature that sets Vesper apart. It’s (1) genuinely useful; (2) inexpensive to include if you have the wisdom to think it up and the technical ability to implement it; and (3) difficult to explain to consumers in a 5-second marketing blurb.
The hardware reflects Vesper’s dedication to the same goal: Optimize the user experience for real-life recreational boaters. This display interface has been designed to minimize current draw and to minimize unnecessary operator distractions.
But enough of my gushing. On with the press release! —Tim
Auckland, New Zealand – Vesper Marine, a leading manufacturer of innovative marine safety products, announced today that it has received FCC Approval for its next-generation, all-in-one, dedicated, collision avoidance display, the AISWatchMate® 850 Class B Transponder.
“We are delighted to achieve this very important milestone for the global launch of the WatchMate 850,” said Jeff Robbins, co-founder, Vesper Marine. “Demand has been building in North America since we announced the product in September and with this FCC approval we can now begin filling orders for our US customers.”
A compact and self-contained device, the WatchMate 850 offers an easy-to-read display, simple to use button-driven menus, built-in GPS antenna, and powerful Class B AIS transponder. The system transmits a boat’s name, size, position, speed and course over AIS channels while simultaneously displaying the timely and easy-to-process information boaters need to interpret potential hazards and react accordingly. Designed to give boaters the ultimate peace of mind, the WatchMate 850 provides unparalleled collision avoidance features for a more worry-free, on-the-water experience.
“To date, we have seen a very positive response to the 850, reinforcing our belief that customers see the value of a dedicated AIS display,” said Mike Ogle, general manager of sales and marketing, Vesper Marine. “The days of compromising on safety by allowing vital AIS information to be lost in the clutter of soundings, overlays, routes and waypoints are over.”
The WatchMate 850 has been selling in Europe and Asia Pacific since the beginning of November through Vesper Marine’s dealer network across 16 countries worldwide. A full list of North American Vesper Marine dealers can be found at www.vespermarine.com/where-to-buy.