Smart boat: Working together for a better boat tomorrow

By Adam Quandt

While running wooden sail boats in St. Barts in the early 2000s, late Siren Marine founder and visionary Dan Harper knew there had to be a way to ensure that his boats were in good condition while away from the docks.

At the heart of Harper’s thinking was knowing that most major problems with boats start small and continue to grow when left unattended at the docks. So he sought out a way to be notified of any potential problems while on shore.

With the mindset of knowing wooden boats leak, Harper put together a plan to have a bilge pump and battery connected to a plan to send notifications to his flip-phone with messages when they were running — all using the 2G networks in place at the time.

Fast-forward through a handful of successful prototypes to 2011 when Harper introduced Siren Marine to the world.

“At the end of the day it’s all about providing peace of mind to the end user,” Siren Marine president Jeffrey Poole told Boating Industry. “You want to head to the boat on a Saturday and know it’s going to turn over and everything is going to run properly.”

With ever-increasing technology, these problems in boating are becoming completely avoidable; making for a happier customer on the water every time and it’s all thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).

“IoT is the notion that everything we use is connected,” Poole said. “For example smart homes and devices like Alexa or smart capabilities in cars today. Everything is connected and communicates with each other. And now we’re unlocking more of those abilities in boating.”

With his foresight in the technological world, the ever-evolving IoT and its potential applications in the boating industry was the very reason that Harper trademarked the term the “connected boat.”

“The connected boat is different things to different people, depending on who you’re looking at within the industry — whether it be manufacturer, dealer, end user or somewhere in between — yet everyone can find different ways to benefit from being connected,” Poole said.

In the instance of the dealer, the connected boat can provide that extra touch point with customers both during and post-warranty. For manufacturers, it can provide a wealth of data of how people use their boats and insights to build a better boat for tomorrow.

“Providing today’s technology enables all stakeholders in the industry a piece of better business,” Poole said. “We’re all fighting for a place in the recreational industry, this technology allows us to be ready to go when the time comes, so that boating isn’t ever passed on.”


Partnerships are key

As Siren Marine’s technology continues to provide a new experience to boating, the company is quickly building partnerships with all different types of boatbuilders and OEMs along the way.

“Every OEM and builder we talk to is interested in something a little different and while we’re not a custom software shop, we understand that everyone has slightly different requirements,” Poole said. “Most of them are facing similar challenges and we’re here to provide solutions.”

Among the most recent, Siren Marine recently launched a new venture with Yamaha Marine. As part of the agreement, Yamaha acquired a stake in Siren Marine, allowing the team to work in tandem to see how propulsion and engine data ties in with OEM boatbuilders.

“Our relationship with Siren Marine will help us lead the marine connected and digital technology race,” Yamaha Marine president Ben Speciale said while announcing the alliance. “Siren Marine devices, software and two-way communication will link to current and future integrated control systems developed by the engineers in our U.S.-based Yamaha Boat Power System division (BPS), the team we formed in 2018 that is reimagining how boaters interact with Yamaha products. CommandBlue drives product development through fresh thinking from a customer point of view. This alliance with Siren is part of that philosophy. The end game will be boats with integrated Yamaha systems that can be monitored and managed by a hand-held device. Ultimately, the alliance will lead to an even higher level of service, lower costs, greater convenience and peace of mind for Yamaha boaters.”

Siren Marine’s capabilities don’t end at just supporting dealers and/or manufacturers though. In the Fall of 2018, Siren announced a partnership with Freedom Boat Club of Rhode Island to provide advanced monitoring and tracking for its fleet of boats across its three locations.

“Our culture at Freedom Boat Club is to provide members with a fun, worry-free boating experience,” said Dick Cromwell, owner of Freedom Boat Club Rhode Island.  “We have equipped our fleet of boats with Siren Marine’s system.  The advantages the Siren Marine system provides are a safety net to our members in case of emergencies or inclement weather.  We always know where they are.  Also, the dock staff can manage their time well and be very responsive.  Knowing the boat is arriving allows for superior customer service.  The halo net Siren Marine provides gives peace of mind to members and staff.  Finally, the boat monitoring function allows us to know if there is trouble on board so we can address it quickly and efficiently. The down side of a boat sinking is enormous.”

By boaters for boaters

With everything that Siren Marine brings to the table from advanced boat monitoring to fleet management and so much more in between, at the end of the day it’s all about providing the best possible on-the-water experience to boaters.

“We’re constantly talking to boaters, builders and dealers and learning where the challenges are and solving where we can help,” Poole said. “On top of that the majority of us at Siren are boaters, so we understand the pain points. We’re truly a solution for boaters by boaters.”

As far as the future of Siren, Poole said to expect more and more strategic alliances — like the recent Yamaha venture — as they continue to work with more manufacturers from boatbuilders to component manufacturers.

“New products are certainly on the horizon for us soon, with more and more functionality,” Poole said. “We pioneered the connected boat industry and we’ll continue to lead it.”

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