I have seen the future of Nobeltec, and it has no. . . okay, okay, I couldn’t resist. But c’mon, let’s admit, that dongle was the only real thing we hated about Nobeltec navigation software. And yes, I know all the reasons they had for using it, but it really got in the way. And now that you know that the future Nobeltec nav software won’t require a dongle, let me tell you that that is the least important of all the improvements coming. Nobeltec gave journalists and industry insiders at the Miami Boat Show a peak at the next-generation software, code-named Trident, that has been under development for some time at the company. The future is very bright, indeed.
In fact, Nobeltec liked the code-name so much they kept it for the new product, married to a term that underlies the technical philosophy of the new products — “TimeZero.” The full name will be TimeZero Trident. The TimeZero moniker refers to the high-speed chart-drawing engine that will be the basis for all Nobeltec software going forward. This is the result of the purchase of Nobeltec by Signet S.A., in October of 2009. The TimeZero codebase is shared between Nobeltec, MaxSea and Furuno (who is a 49% shareholder of Signet).
What does this mean to you?
The major benefit to you as a navigator using software based on this chart engine is the nearly instantaneous, seamless chart re-draws, no matter what you’re trying to do — pan, zoom in or zoom out. You don’t wait for anything. And when that kind of speed is available, then integrating full-time 3D is easy to do. In fact you can fuse photos into the 3D view as well and with a feature called Depth Shading, you can keep the high resolution satellite photos in place and watch it become more transparent with increasing water depth, allowing you to see where shallow water ends and deeper water begins.
TimeZero Trident will run MapMedia 3D charts, including official S-57 vector and raster charts from hydrographic offices around the world, as well as vector charts from C-MAP by Jeppesen and DataCore by Navionics. The bottom line on this feature is that you will have access to the best cartography available and you can run in and out of the different charts without any work on your part.
The software is fully integrated, as you might expect, with the latest Furuno hardware, including NavNet 3D and the FAR 2XX7 series of radars, as well as a host of other Furuno and Insight (Nobeltec) hardware. There are nice integrations of NMEA data streams, too, so a real glass bridge can be even more flexible and functional.
The Best Part
Despite all the previous gushing, what I liked best about the Trident product is the new user interface. A couple of extremely useful and flexible toolbars are placed around the periphery of the screen, allowing you to configure your activity and views with nearly limitless customization. But you don’t have to dig through a foggy manual to learn how to do it. For example, in the screenshot at the top of this piece, you can see a small ribbon at the top of the screen, which allows you to select the “workspace” that you are in. You can move with a single click from an active navigation (monitoring) workspace, to a planning workspace, without disrupting the former to get to the latter.
On the right side of the screen above you can see a transparent sidebar with a new key instrument view. This, too, is customizable. To read all about the features in TimeZero Trident, download the attached brochure PDF (6+MB).
You can see the screenshots in this special OceanLines Gallery
While TimeZero Trident will be a stand-alone product, distinct from the current Nobeltec VNS and Admiral 11 software, eventually, its TimeZero engine will be the basis for all Nobeltec software in the future. I think it’s fair to say you can expect to see TimeZero VNS and Admiral versions, which do still have somewhat different feature sets from Trident. The Nobeltec folks didn’t say so, but it seems logical to me that at some point down the road, I don’t know when, everything will become Trident labeled (hey, it’s a cooler name, right?). Nobeltec expects TZ Trident to be available later this spring.
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