Breaking news.....Portview, a revolutionary new port navigation system, the first of its kind, was unveiled today at the Monaco Yacht Show.
Sponsored by Google and similar in style to Street View, a test run of Portview is being rolled out to a global audience and will be most useful to captains as they approach a port or berth for the first time. 'We decided to try it out because when you get to a port and don't know where the berth is or how tight the turn is, it can be difficult. This means you can have a look before you get there,' explains Kenneth Himschoot, of Sea ID Ltd, which developed the prototype on the Cote d'Azur with Google.
Kenneth has spent weeks using a 15 camera system to take around 10,000 panoramas of both Monaco ports to create Portview.
'We modified a jet ski, put a Street View camera on top and I operated the camera,' explained Kenneth as he gave OnboardOnline an exclusive demonstration of the system at the International Hydrographic Organisation in Monaco. 'It was a technology demo, a case of can we adapt the software that does Street View to work on the water and will it work?
'I've gone around ports including Port Hercule, Fontvieille, Cap d'Ail, Villefranche, St Jean Cap Ferrat, all the way to Cannes. When the Google team at Mountain View saw the imagery two weeks ago, they said great, can you do all the ports? They meant worldwide, so we have 25,000 to go!'
Available through maps.google.com, the real value according to Kenneth is the layers that will be put on top of it in the future. 'Boats for sale, restaurants, slipways, you will be able to navigate the way you do in Street View, it's really simple. It works on a phone or a tablet as long as you have Google Maps.'
It wasn't all plain sailing, however - Kenneth was approached by a Great White shark in the bay of Villefranche. 'It broke the wave and was pretty scary. Just a shame I wasn't taking photographs at the time! My biggest challenge was permits, people not getting in the way, or people telling me this is private. But it's very exciting, we are expecting millions of views by tonight when it launches.'
For more information check out portview.gallery