Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. develops and sells marine and industrial electronics products and systems, including radar, GPS, fish finders, sonar, satellite communication systems, radio equipment, and other deep-sea products. It also offers industrial electronics products, such as car navigation systems, electronic toll-collection system, and ETC automotive devices. The company was founded in 1938 and is headquartered in Nishinomiya, Japan, with facilities across Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
Just as owners of today’s smartphones and tablets demand usability and simplicity, boat owners/operators also seek a similar user experience with Multi Function Displays (MFDs) that aggregate navigation and vessel information, communicate to personal mobile devices, and share community based information through innovative features such as Furuno’s ActiveCaptain.
With these new customer demands in mind, Furuno developed their next-generation product line, NavNet TZtouch2–an advanced marine MFD for recreational, fishing, and commercial vessels.
The complexities of building a compact marine MFD system capable of delivering a superior, customizable touch-based user interface while incorporating wireless technologies like cellular and Wi-Fi are numerous. And, the complexity multiplies when the system must be rugged enough to survive in challenging marine environments.
Furuno turned to the embedded systems experts at Digi International to tackle these challenges and quickly bring a new era of marine MFD to market.
In order to provide a feature-rich system in a rugged and compact design, Furuno standardized the entire NavNet TZtouch2 product lineup on Digi's ConnectCore 6–the industry’s first fully pre-certified, wireless-enabled Freescale i.MX 6 multicore system-on-module (SoM) solution.
With the ConnectCore 6, Furuno is able to take advantage of the compact surface-mount form factor and connector-less design that is ideal for harsh marine environments without sacrificing performance or reliability. Digi also worked with Furuno to optimize the system’s power consumption to meet the unique thermal management requirements of an environmentally sealed and passively cooled design.
The module’s pre-certified Wi-Fi eliminates the need to acquire regional certifications and allows the NavNet TZtouch2 to easily connect to a vessel’s wireless router – providing access to aggregated community information like fuel rates, fishing grounds, chart depths, and more.
NavNet TZtouch2 also enables users to access functions such as fish finder, navigational information, and engine data on smartphones and tablets via the system’s integrated Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities.
Pre-certified wireless connectivity, Digi’s in-house embedded software expertise, complete access to source code, and Digi’s global presence of technical resources all combined to help Furuno quickly bring the NavNet TZtouch2 to market. Standardizing on a single, scalable module platform, simplifies development and reduces the time required to introduce new additions to the product line since expertise can be leveraged in future models and designs.
As an extendable and modular system, owners have the option to integrate additional components such as Furuno’s Ultra High Definition Radars or external fish finder modules. Customers can also integrate, display and control the NavPilot Autopilot, or share settings with Furuno’s glass bridge instruments.
“The sophistication of Digi technology and the talents of their services team have been keys to our development of the NavNet TZtouch2 products,” said Muneyuki Koike, Furuno’s managing director. “We can tap into a high level of processing power to ensure our new systems have the performance our customers have come to expect from Furuno. Additionally, Digi’s track record gives us greater assurance about long-term availability and support of components.”