For a few years now boatbuilders have been spicing up the look of new models with colored mood lighting, underwater lights, and even lighted drink holders so you can find your cold one in the dark. Which is all pretty cool, but it looks positively stone-age compared to the new Smart Lighting packages coming your way. Unlike the traditional lights that you turn on and off with toggle switches on the dash, Smart Lighting systems operate from your multi-function display or even the phone in your pocket. Dial-in exactly the right hue with a color wheel that lets you choose from an infinite choice of tones, turn the intensity up or down or program the lights to come on automatically as you approach, so the boat comes to life as you stroll down the dock.
No question boats are getting more and more connected, and the newest cloud-based remote monitoring systems let you keep tabs on everything to do with your boat by just glancing at your phone. Check battery levels to ensure you have enough charge, and that the bilge pumps came on automatically to deal with the previous night’s rain. Or set up a geofence so you’ll be informed immediately if someone decides to take your rig for an unauthorized ride.
More Soft Decking
It used to be that all boat decks were either fiberglass non-skid, or soft marine carpet. But today, you’re far more likely to find your new ride decked with soft-touch foam. Foam has massive advantages over either non-skid or carpet, which is why it’s quickly becoming the new standard. It’s a lot softer on bare feet than non-skid, for one thing, while offering even better non-slip protection. Foam is a lot easier to clean than carpet, and it dries in minutes – unlike the rug which would suck up rainwater or spray, and stay wet for days. Beyond that, foam stays cool to the touch under the glaring sun, and won’t fade or stain the way carpet will.
Digital Switching Changes Everything
The hottest stuff at IBEX by far was all the new digital switching systems on display. Digital switching replaces mechanical toggle switches on your dash with a simple control panel that lets you automate just about anything, allowing electrical devices like alarms, lights, power hatch lids, bow thrusters, climate controls, pumps, windlasses, cameras and other equipment to be run from an MFD using a familiar, mobile phone-like graphic user interface, digital systems tend to be easier for consumers to operate. Or, just run it all from your phone and enjoy the ultimate remote control.