LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL OF MARINE ELECTRONICS
by Brad Wiegmann
Garmin, Lowrance and finally Humminbird now all have released their version of phased array scanning sonar aka live-imaging sonar(LIS) in forward/down/wide viewing sonar in real time. It’s seems impossible for this technology to get any better, but wait. What the future has forthcoming is even more unbelievable lifelike real time imaging.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves of how great this would be for anglers. Truth is they already have technology and products that produce lifelike imaging. Oculus Multibeam Sonar and KONGSBERG Mesotech. They are used for hull inspections, location tracking, sonar for law enforcement and police rescue operations and provide additional safety by monitoring divers.
These are heavy, large products that are extremely expensive. Also right now these units require 12- to 32Volts DC non-isolated/isolated and depending on the model and range 10W- to 35W-power supply. Both make existing units impractical for anglers.
They are also capable of producing high resolution imagery in low or zero visibility conditions.
So why even talk about these real-time high-definition multi-beam imaging sonar products? Because if I’m looking at them to see what these products are capable of doing don’t you think Garmin, Lowrance and Humminbird are to?
The next, great version of LIS will surely incorporate some of the features Oculus and KONGSBERG recognize as standard technology. You can expect higher quality, distortion-free imaging at possibly at ranges up to 600+ feet. The new units may also have wider scanning area of 180 degrees without stitching boundaries or ghost trees. Similar to down/side imaging the units could possibly have dual-frequency models.
Transducer size and shapes will change. You might even have 3 or more transducers on the trolling motor shaft or separately mounted on an over the side mounts similar to a live-sweep mount. It’s possible the transducer will be gelled into the hull of a fiberglass boat.
Underwater Fishing Cameras
It’s only a matter of time before one of the major trolling motor companies have built-in underwater fish camera. Companies like Aqua-Vu and MarCum already have stand alone products that produce real-time viewing. Right now anglers can see real-time video with Aqua-Vu Multi-Vu HD Pro, a turnkey sonar or TV to camera adapter system with a LCD or compatible sonar unit.
Even with the advancements of “usable and affordable” technology the fishing tournament community will at some point set limits to what anglers can have on their boat. I would expect that no remotely operated device or remote stationary transducer will be allowed.