Advances in marine electronics technology border on mind boggling when you consider how far it has come in just the last decade. The latest innovation to hit the market is the Cortex VHF Marine Radio, the first to incorporate touchscreen handsets, integrated SOTDMA smartAIS Transponder and Remote Vessel Monitoring.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Robins, CEO, and Chief Technical Officer, Carl Omundsen of Vesper Marine while they were touring the states from Vesper’s base of operations in New Zealand. I was treated with a hands-on demonstration of the Cortex that left me truly impressed and amazed that so much technology could be contained in such a compact unit.
Jeff Robins explained that innovation in AIS technology, touchscreen devices and vessel monitoring has skyrocketed in recent years, but marine VHF hasn’t kept pace and remains an anachronism. Cortex fundamentally changes how you interact with safety communication systems.
Cortex provides unparalleled safety by alerting boaters of collision risks, providing key information about the potential threat and making it easy to communicate with them. The touchscreen handset makes typically complicated functions easy to use. For example, touching a vessel onscreen and pressing “call” makes a direct DSC call. Cortex continuously shows crossing situations, navigation light sectors and even allows trial maneuvers while a boater talks on the VHF radio. Up to 10 handsets, either wired or wireless, provide up to 85 dBA of crystal-clear audio. A 10W speaker output enables louder audio and alerting even while handsets are turned off. Cortex includes dual-watch, favorite channels and one-handed operation via the click-wheel. Pressing the dedicated man overboard (MOB) button activates a track back mode on all handsets and marks the MOB waypoint on NMEA 2000 connected multi-function displays (MFDs).
Carl Omundsen explained that Cortex unleashes the full potential of VHF, AIS and DSC by combining them in a way that is both intuitive and super easy to use.
Cortex includes Vesper Marine’s award-winning smartAIS technology. An active system with smart alarm logic, smartAIS proactively alerts boaters of potentially hazardous situations. It combines navigation sensor data such as wind speed, GPS and AIS information with intelligent alarm management that prioritizes alerts for the most urgent response. Cortex continuously calculates crossing situations and generates collision alarms for critical action, alerts the crew of anchor dragging, and activates MOB alarms for immediate retrieval. Instead of ambiguous bells or tones, Cortex sounds the alarm with voiced alerts that escalate until acknowledged.
Cortex combines built in sensors and NMEA2000 connectivity with free basic monitoring. Using cellular connectivity, boaters can view twice-daily updates of power, location, wind, depth, bilge, temperature and more on their smartphones. The Cortex Monitor Premium subscription unlocks real-time vessel status, alerts and device control for boat systems like refrigerators, icemakers, lights or heaters.
Whether sleeping onboard at night or away from the boat, Cortex Anchor Watch gives owners the confidence that their boat is safely anchored. Onboard alarms are available on Cortex handsets and WiFi connected smartphones. While ashore, Cortex sends alerts to a smartphone via the Cortex Monitor app. As well as anchor drag, Cortex can alert on changes to wind speed, wind direction and water depth.
Cortex will only get smarter; new features and capabilities are downloaded automatically to the Cortex Onboard App for easy updates via WiFi whenever convenient.
Cortex Onboard and Cortex Monitor Apps will be available for download for both iOS and Android. Cortex Onboard provides onboard monitoring and alert functionality on mobile devices, sending safety data and alerts directly to smartphone or tablet via WiFi. When away from the boat, Cortex Monitor provides position, sensor and anchor watch monitoring and alerts.
Engineered for marine durability with a submersible IPX7 rating, the wired H1 and wireless rechargeable H1P handsets feature a generous 4-inch Gorilla Glass multi-touch display. Wet and glove capable, the touchscreen is optically bonded for wide-angle and sunlight viewability, even in the harshest midday sun. The Cortex M1 is enclosed in thermally conductive plastic and is also sealed for an IPX7 rating. It includes an integrated no-loss splitter so a single VHF antenna can be used for Cortex and another VHF radio. All ports are galvanically isolated to protect from corrosion, electrical surges and ground loops. The Cortex M1 is also available separately and is a full-function Class B SOTDMA AIS that offers remote monitoring and control and is VHF-ready. Simply add Cortex handsets to access full VHF communication functionality, or purchase the Cortex V1 package which includes the M1 and H1 handset.
Networkable via NMEA2000, Cortex integrates with leading marine MFDs, sharing AIS positioning information and boat sensors. A five-channel input offers control and monitoring of sensors connected directly to the device for a cost-effective vessel monitoring solution.