Engaging Your Senses – Future Bridge Technology

John Konrad
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November 29, 2010

I miss the ticks of the analogue gyro repeater. Today’s gyro compasses are more functional and easy to interface with modern electronic systems but they lack the tick which was so effective in letting you feel the rate of turn aboard your ship.

I also miss single-function electronics. Sure I enjoy viewing AIS, radar and propulsion information on one screen but, the problem is, now all the alarms sound the same.

The modern bridge has become a visually enticing environment but it neglects the other senses. Yes you can still feel the ship’s motion but you can’t smell the cargo from a modern CCR, or feel the wind from inside a climate controlled bridge wing, or hear the increasingly rapid ticks of the gyro when the helmsman gets sleepy.

The future of marine electronics and integrated bridge technology will include terms like ergonomics, tactile response and acoustic resonance. You won’t need to know the meaning of these terms but they will work together to engage the watchstander by switching on all 5 of his senses.

While I don’t predict a return of smell-o-vision, I do see a future in which naval architects borrow ideas from Hollywood and theme park designers to improve the situational awareness of watchstanders.

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