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NMEA hands out awards to 18 products

Last week much of the marine electronics world met in Portsmouth, VA, for a combined get-together of the National Marine Electronics Association and the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services. It’s appropriately called the NMEA/RTCM Marine Electronics Conference & Expo. The week-long schedule was full of technical education sessions and training and more than a few thin-air discussions about regulatory policies and standards. For some of us, though, the highlight was the two-day product expo and onboard demonstrations of new electronics.

Every year NMEA awards top-dog status to products in many categories, ranging from autopilots and multi-function displays to fishfinders and marine software. It’s called the NMEA Product of Excellence Award. NMEA members--dealers, installers, manufacturers and a bunch of others--select the winners.

There’s also a special tip-of-the-hat to what’s judged to be the industry’s best product based on innovation, benefit to boaters, practicality and value. It’s called the NMEA Technology Award and is chosen by a five-person panel of independent judges, including marine electronics experts Kevin Boughton of Mid-Coast Marine Electronics in Maine, Aaron Held of Octopus Yachts in New Jersey and Mark Roche of QCS Marine Electronics in Florida, along with veteran marine writer/editor Lenny Rudow and Marine Electronics Journal editor Jim Fullilove.

Special this year was an added award for the best new product that was introduced to the market at the week-long event. Like the Technology Award, it was selected by the judges based on the same four criteria. Here’s who won:

Product of Excellence Award

Commercial—Furuno FAR2228BB IMO Radar

Manufacturer of the Year-Support—Garmin


NMEA Technology Award

Raymarine/FLIR’s ClearCruise AR (as in Augmented Reality) took top honors from among 11 entries. Here’s what the judges said:

"ClearCruise AR is an industry-first technology that combines augmented reality and advanced image stabilization to help boaters make smarter and faster navigation decisions by placing visual overlays of nav aids, AIS traffic and destination waypoints on Raymarine Axiom multi-function displays. The overlays identify nearby AIS-equipped vessels with color-coding to warn of traffic that could pose threats. At the heart of the system is a blending of high-definition digital or thermal video from networked Raymarine or FLIR marine cameras and dynamic graphics.”

Best New Product Award

Selected as top dog from 12 entries was Vesper Marine’s Cortex, the world’s first marine VHF with wireless touchscreen handsets, built-in Class B smart AIS transponder and remote vessel monitoring. Pressing the man overboard button (MOB) activates a track-back mode and marks the MOB location on the multi-function display. The Cortex sports a host of other functions as well, including anchor dragging alert and collision alarm.

Next week we’ll return to the Best & Brightest roundup of boating electronics as reported in Marine Electronics Journal.

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