Announcing gTrax - AIS Vessel Tracking For The iPhone


#1

Have you ever used an iPhone on the bridge of a ship?

In August of 2008 gCaptain forum member [… Click HERE to read the full blog article.


#2

Great idea guys! :slight_smile:
The info is promising and the screenshots look good and I really wanted to buy this app but unfortunately it’s no good for me.
Paying for it, then also a subscription fee and then only getting the info for the main ports in the US of A…no sorry. :frowning:
If it had the whole world covered I would have jumped on the bandwagon, now I’ll keep my current AIS-app which is subscription-free and covers a hugh chunk of the world.


#3

Well I certainly understand your thoughts… if you don’t live in a covered region then what is the point.

Yes the app is simple but that is intentional. But I do promise that if you were to download it the difference between AIS apps would be clear. Also, this is just version 1.0 of our broader plans for accessing maritime information on the iPhone.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Bart and… Merry Christmas!


#4

No. Especially not for navigation purposes. That would be foolish, as I mentioned before. Use the AIS equipment provided. You appear to be selling this for navigational use when you open the post with the above quote.


#5

[QUOTE=rjbpilot;23349]You appear to be selling this for navigational use when you open the post with the above quote.[/QUOTE]

I agree fully, it would be foolish to use this for navigational purposes. Where we continue to disagree is in the common sense of the average mariner.

The other point is understanding the limitations of the systems you are using. For example many voyage plans are done using Microsoft Excel or shareware programs like Waypoint for Windows. Both have bugs that can cause serious navigational errors so should these programs both stamp “Not For Navigational Use” on them? Should they be banned from use on the bridge altogether?

The advantage of an iPhone app over a bridge system is speed. On the bridge we are all being overwhelmed by technology and communication but, in fact, it’s not the information that’s overwhelming us, it’s the lost time it takes to organize and process this data that’s causing the problem.

Also what about non-critical tasks? Say you want to DSC a nearby ship. It’s much more efficient to bring gTrax to the GMDSS console than it is to walk over to the AIS… scroll through the MKD of an AIS display… try to figure out which ship is the right one (this is easier on ships that have ecdis… but not all do) write down the MMSI number… walk over to the GMDSS console and retype it. Using this program you can perform this duty in 30 seconds but without it making this dsc call would take 2-5 minutes (assuming you wrote down the correct numbers).

The extra 1.5-4.5 minutes you saved by using gTrax can now be used on a more important task.

Like anything you need to know the limitations of the system and verify the data. I would not trust an excel voyage plan without verifying the results manually just as I would not use gTrax without verifying the data on a class approved ship systems.

Whenever we get new equipment or software on the bridge I always ignore it during my first few watches and test it when there is free time available on someone else’s watch (with their permission, of course). Personally I will certainly be testing the app out on the bridge while I’m off duty.

Last it’s simple to use. ECDIS and AIS systems approval does not care about user interface design and it was the complexity of the ecdis system contributed to the Cosco Busan hitting a bridge. Even earlier in the error chain of that incident the complexity led to the pilot’s reluctance to learn the system. Now what if the pilot (or an 17 year old cadet!) had gTrax on his iphone (say to monitor his next job from the car)? Within 30 seconds of launching the app it would have been clear he was not lined up on the proper heading.

So while I still agree fully, it would be foolish to use this for navigational purposes, I do not think it should be banned from use on the bridge because, like anything, it has it’s uses and limitations and it is up to the watchkeeper to understand these and only use the program for non-critical tasks… then verify his findings.

Circling around to my initial point… gCaptain was built on trusting our forum members. I don’t think we need to provide a big pop-up box saying “The ideas presented in the forum are not verified and should not be used in the navigation of a vessel” just like I’m not going to build a big pop-up in gTrax saying “This app has not been verified by class and, therefore, should not be used for navigational purposes”. The members of gCaptain are smart enough to know when a forum poster is giving dangerous advice and they are also smart enough to know not to ignore their class approved ECDIS.


#6

I am not trying to rip on your product. I understand it is neat and can be useful. It is a little stretch in saving time retrieving info from the AIS. And
investigators found that bar pilot John Cota was intoxicated from his use of prescription [COLOR=black]pharmaceuticals [/COLOR]while piloting the ship, which rendered him unable to use the onboard radar and electronic maps correctly, and that the Coast Guard’s [COLOR=black]Vessel Traffic Service [/COLOR]did not warn Cota that he was sailing into the bridge. I don’t think an i-phone would have helped him much. You stated that you do not condone or advise it’s use in navigation but just gave an example of how to use it in a navigational setting. I can see some problems if an incident occurs and an i-phone is involved, in regards to the investigation. I wish you the best of luck in the sales of your product, John, but please do not advocate it’s use in the wheelhouse where only CFR designated equipment is to be used by [U]law[/U]. I really am not trying to be a downer here, it’s just that as U.S. licensed merchant mariner’s, we have an obligation to hold to the standards of the given laws and regulations that govern us and our conduct on the bridge. We have to be very careful in this environment of CYA!

I don’t want to make this a long drawn out disscussion. I won’t say anymore about it. Good luck with the app. Merry Christmas, John

Don’t ban me for disagreeing with you! :smiley:


#7

I am not trying to rip on your product. I understand it is neat and can be useful. It is a little stretch in saving time retrieving info from the AIS. And
investigators found that bar pilot John Cota was intoxicated from his use of prescription [COLOR=black]pharmaceuticals [/COLOR]while piloting the ship, which rendered him unable to use the onboard radar and electronic maps correctly, and that the Coast Guard’s [COLOR=black]Vessel Traffic Service [/COLOR]did not warn Cota that he was sailing into the bridge. I don’t think an i-phone would have helped him much. You stated that you do not condone or advise it’s use in navigation but just gave an example of how to use it in a navigational setting. I can see some problems if an incident occurs and an i-phone is involved, in regards to the investigation. I wish you the best of luck in the sales of your product, John, but please do not advocate it’s use in the wheelhouse where only CFR designated equipment is to be used by [U]law[/U]. I really am not trying to be a downer here, it’s just that as U.S. licensed merchant mariner’s, we have an obligation to hold to the standards of the given laws and regulations that govern us and our conduct on the bridge. We have to be very careful in this environment of CYA! Maybe some day you can get it approved for navigation purposes…

I don’t want to make this a long drawn out discussion. I won’t say anymore about it. Good luck with the app. Merry Christmas, John

Don’t ban me for disagreeing with you! :smiley:


#8

Being old school (as opposed to “old salt”), I wonder if the instruction manual is available for review separately, or does it only come with the app?


#9

Merry Christmas to you to John, and to all other reading this.

I’ll deffo keep an eye out for when the services are indeed going global. The app I use now uses hobbiest AIS-feeds, there is nothing wrong with that but they can be a bit unreliable.

To get to your point of using the app on the bridge: I don’t think I would ever do that. and for the following reasons:
A) The ships I sail on nowadays got an ECDIS with an integrated AIS-function, so a big screen with all the rcvd AIS-info in real time and on scale around you. Nothing can beat that.
B) And then there is the dedicated AIS-equipment: some is just rubbish to use, some is easy to use but it is there and ready for it.
C) The bad example: seeing the Chief or the Old man navigating while holding and monitoring his phone might give a wrong impression to the younger mates o/b. There already is enough distractions going on to keep them from proper navigating.

Nevertheless: I can see the advantage for yachties and other users on the water (canoe, sailing boat, everything without electricity).
I use my app quit a bit when I’m not on the ship to see where my colleagues on other ships are.

So when the app has a good global coverage I’ll be the first in line to start using it. And I’m looking forward to that time.


#10

“can’t wait to use at sea”. by super cadet

you should add a calculator for all the sailings in a massive update


#11

[QUOTE=rjbpilot;23374]Don’t ban me for disagreeing with you! :D[/QUOTE]

That’s it your banned! :mad:

Just joking… actually I enjoy it most when people disagree with me. It helps keep me on track… something I am in real need of sometimes.


#12

[QUOTE=Old Bakelite;23377]Being old school (as opposed to “old salt”), I wonder if the instruction manual is available for review separately, or does it only come with the app?[/QUOTE]

No but that is an excellent idea! Now I just have to find the time to write it :eek:

stby


#13

[QUOTE=SeaBart;23380]Merry Christmas to you to John, and to all other reading this.

I’ll deffo keep an eye out for when the services are indeed going global. The app I use now uses hobbiest AIS-feeds, there is nothing wrong with that but they can be a bit unreliable…[/QUOTE]

I have yet to sail on a ship that had an ECDIS… But that will soon change (thank god) when my new ship leaves Korea in March.

Global coverage will be slowly pushed out starting in the coming months. Any ports high on your wish list?


#14

[QUOTE=SuperCadet;23382]“can’t wait to use at sea”. by super cadet

you should add a calculator for all the sailings in a massive update[/QUOTE]

The good news is that sailings will be available soon. The bad news is that they are coming in our next app, gCalc… which you’ll need to buy separately.


#15

[quote=john;23397]That’s it your banned! :mad:

Just joking… actually I enjoy it most when people disagree with me. It helps keep me on track… something I am in real need of sometimes.[/quote]

Wow! That was wild, right after I posted that, I got the blank screen! At first I thought you did ban me!..until I read the note about the hack. Hope, all is well now. Glad you are back up!


#16

So, since it was my “brilliant suggestion,” does that mean that I get it for free???


#17

No, that’s GOOD news! :cool:


#18

[quote=john;23399]I have yet to sail on a ship that had an ECDIS… But that will soon change (thank god) when my new ship leaves Korea in March.

Global coverage will be slowly pushed out starting in the coming months. Any ports high on your wish list?[/quote]
LA/LB. Might get a good following from the yachties heading out to Catalina or the channel islands if you expanded the coverage to cover the rest of the TSS also.


#19

While not really wanting to wade into this I am curious as to just which law it is that you believe only allows CFR designated equipment in the wheelhouse. I find that claim a bit of a stretch.


#20

I was kind of wondering about that myself… There are a whole bunch of us using Rose Point and Nobletech etc on personal laptops in the pilothouse because companies are too cheap to put ECS on the boats. No law against that as far as I know. Pilots with their own PPUs, backup GPS/AIS receivers, you name it.