B&G with aircraft style display for SailSteerJun 19, 2013
Jim Deheer, Zeus Touch product manager for B&G, putting a Zeus Touch MFD through its paces
When I got the opportunity to take a closer look at B&G's SailSteer display on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at a B&G event in South Dartmouth, Mass., my first reaction was B&G had done an impressive job weaving many data threads into one graphical display. SailSteer is just one element of Zeus Touch, a sailing navigation, strategy and boat systems package that B&G launched in November of 2012. After two chances to see Zeus in action aboard a Beneteau 45 and then a Beneteau 41 sailing from Cape Yachts, I was struck by the similarity between the data-packed SailSteer display and the types of instruments found in aircraft cockpits. Airplanes travel much faster than boats and pilots need to look at an instrument and quickly grab information. When you present a large data set, you need to make it obvious, so the user isn't hunting for what he or she needs.
Take a look at all the information presented by this Attitude Director Indicator (ADI - image courtesy the L-1011 Project website).
This ADI was built in 1982 and flew aboard an Airbus A300 - modern jets use digital multifunction displays that often present information much like an analog unit. This instrument shows:
- aircraft attitude
- bank angle
- turn coordination
- glide slope deviation
- localizer deviation
- fast/slow on approach
- flight director pitch
- flight director roll
- decision height
Now here's the SailSteer display.
The B&G graphical approach presents this information:
- course over the ground
- current direction and speed
- opposite tack layline
- true wind angle
- bearing to waypoint
- rudder angle indicator
SailSteer doesn't show this data as a mass of numbers, but integrates all the data into one elegant graphic. Admittedly, the SailSteer display takes a little practice to get comfortable with, just because there is so much information available. I think most sailors, both racers and cruisers, will quickly get the hang of this well-designed product, however.