What is WakeTouch?
WakeTouch is the next generation of wakeboat instrumentation. It includes support for high resolution color screens, touch and/or button control, full integration with the engine's CAN network, control of sound systems and other accessories, and intelligent control of hull tools such as ballast pumps, "gates", and trim plates.
WakeTouch takes advantage of high volume, commercial hardware to increase reliability and flexibility while decreasing costs and development time. For example, an off-the-shelf computer tablet is a thin, rectangular box just like the custom screens in today’s helm systems. A tablet can be mounted in a dashboard exactly like a custom screen using the same type of mounts and same waterproofing gaskets.
WakeTouch is a complete package of technology including hardware, software, firmware, and patents. WakeTouch is more powerful, less expensive, and more reliable than existing screen-based wakeboat helm systems.
Why did we create the overall WakeTouch system?
Helm systems need hardware: A screen for user output, a touch system for user input, interfaces, those sorts of things. Modern tablet computers already have them, and we realized that tablets could be more than prototypes... they would work perfectly in production too. And once we had a fully featured tablet computer with its high resolution color display and multicore computing power, the next logical step was to include the features found on existing wakeboat screens. Why reinvent the wheel, and make things needlessly expensive, when tablet manufacturers are already shipping what you need in ultra-high volumes?
Is WakeTouch's use of tablets patented?
Yes! We have both issued and pending patent claims covering the use of tablets as the helm user interface. The various claims are in multiple filings with the US Patent Office, and approach the topic from a variety of perspectives to insure that our unique and innovative approach to delivering more performance for less money is solidly protected.
Is WakeTouch only for inboard boats?
No! WakeTouch can be used on any kind of boat. In fact, one of the most promising markets is entry-level outboards and sterndrives, where existing screen-based helm systems are just too expensive. WakeTouch can put a touchscreen helm in new entry-level boats for under $300, rivaling the cost of a set of traditional round gauges while delivering far more features, flexibility, and customization.
Why is WakeTouch important?
WakeTouch is important because it delivers more reliability, more features, and more flexibility in your wakeboat's helm for less cost.
Existing wakeboat instrumentation systems suffer from high cost and poor reliability because they are fully custom and manufactured in relatively small quantities. Wakeboat industry comments suggest that a typical screen-based helm system costs four figures! And even at those prices, stories are everywhere about screen and system failures, firmware bugs, and other problems.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Think about it: The custom screens in existing helm systems are thin, rectangular boxes with electronics inside... just like a tablet computer! And modern tablets drive the technology industry... they have the latest multicore processors, the latest hardware accelerated graphics, the latest high density full color displays, the latest advanced sensors, and the latest wireless interfaces. Why waste money and time reinventing all those wheels?
Tablets have another huge advantage: Production volume. They make more tablets in a week than a whole year's production of wakeboats. Those tablet volumes mean lower manufacturing costs, dramatically improved reliability, and fewer software bugs.
The patented WakeTouch approach combines standard tablets with just enough custom electronics to connect to the rest of the wakeboat's systems. WakeTouch's production cost can be less than half that of fully custom systems, saving thousands of dollars on each and every wakeboat. Those savings can improve profit margins, lower prices to make wakeboats more affordable, or cover the cost of including other features that are too expensive to include today.
The WakeTouch approach is also far more flexible. For example: Want to offer a larger screen as an option? Normally that would mean a completely new product with development, tooling, testing, and production costs and all of the uncertain schedules and budgets that accompany big development projects. But WakeTouch delivers a larger screen by simply using a larger off-the-shelf tablet: different sized tablets have the same USB connectors and run the same operating system, so they're literally plug and play. The development costs and uncertainties have already been handled by the tablet makers. That also means next year's tablets are already compatible. WakeTouch leverages tablet advantages to provide a wide range of production-proven options at almost no extra cost.
WakeTouch also speeds and simplifies product development. Tablets have complete suites of development tools, libraries of reusable code, and a worldwide population of Engineers already familiar with them. Custom helm hardware has none of these advantages which means everything gets slower, less predictable, and more expensive. No wonder existing helm systems have so many problems... they have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to do something new!
WakeTouch is truly the next generation of wakeboat helm instrumentation.
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