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July 17, 2015

Cutting-Edge Electronics Revealed at ICAST

by Craig Ritchie

Among the hundreds of new products introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, held in Orlando from July 15 to 17 inclusive, few can match the buzz generated by the latest offerings from manufacturers of high-tech electronics.


Navico generated a huge amount of buzz at the show with the introduction of the new StructureScan 3D sonar modules for its Lowrance and Simrad lines. The remarkable new technology – based on a new module and transducer – allows anglers to easily spot fish, underwater structure and bottom contours in an entirely new way, viewing the bottom down to 300 feet and with side-scanning capability to 600 feet on either side of the boat. The image is rendered on a stunning 3D touch-screen display that allows the angler to move the view in any direction with the swipe of a finger. The three dimensional views provide an unprecedented view of bottom structure, cover such as trees or vegetation growing on that structure, and fish holding in it.



Navico Lowrance HDS-9


Among the numerous new technologies included in the system are a new SelectScan capability that automatically shades fish-holding cover, providing an almost photographic rendering of the bottom contours in full 3D. Further, a new Leading Edge feature provides a clear graphical illustration of the actual sonar beams as they intersect with the bottom contours – a brilliant bit of engineering that gives the angler a better sense of target depth. Vertical Depth Enhancement provides greater emphasis to vertical drops and depth contour changes, while 3D Waypoint Overlay makes it easy to revisit favorite fishing areas.


"At the product unveiling we had three BASSMaster Champions in the booth at once, and each of them were talking about how they could have used these new capabilities last season," says Lucas Steward, product manager at Navico. "In our own product testing we were astounded not only at the degree of detail you can see, but at how easy the technology is to use."


Humminbird also used the show to display a range of new products, including its Helix 7SI, which won a Best of Show award in the electronics category. Judges were impressed with its Side Imaging, Down Imaging and SwitchFire sonar capabilities, displayed on what the company describes as the brightest seven-inch widescreen in the industry, as well as its ability to accommodate a range of media in its card slot, including Humminbird LakeMaster, AutoChart and AutoChart Pro, as well as Navionics Gold/HotMaps.



Humminbird Helix 7SI


With the growing popularity of using portable devices like iPads to display fishing information, several fishing apps were also unveiled at ICAST, including an exciting update to the popular ‘Boating' app by Navionics. An all-new autorouting feature enables dock-to-dock route planning along US coastal marine, Great Lakes, and major rivers areas. Just tap the start and end waypoints on the onscreen map, and autorouting provides viable routes, taking into consideration navaids, water depth and more. Once underway, the app also displays speed, ETA, distance-to-arrival and total distance. It is also possible to search marinas and waterfront restaurants.



Navionics' 'Boating' app


Currently available with the Navionics Boating version 8.0 for iPhone and iPad, the company says an Android edition will be available shortly.


Making its debut at this year's show, GoFree introduced an all-new fishing app called GoFree Hooked. Available for iOS, GoFree Hooked offers the capability of recording and sharing every fishing trip – whether from a boat or the shore – complete with the time, location and navigation track of each outing. The app features fast and simple "Catch" functionality to quickly save fish details like photos, size, weight, species and other information. The app merges navigational data with user data for a complete picture of every catch. All data is stored on the secure GoFree cloud server for easy access anywhere.


GoFree's 'Hooked' app


The GoFree Hooked app also delivers a powerful "Compete" feature so anglers can create their own personal tournaments among friends. Data is recorded in real time, allowing anglers to view a live leader board and share each other's data. Compatible with Apple iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6+ devices, the app is in a Beta test stage (interested anglers can sign up at www.gofreehooked.com) and is expected to be available from the Apple Store shortly.
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