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I bought my last used car in 2001. I was 24 and enjoying a few (ahem) hard-earned years of post-college adventuring, and I was seeking a reliable mileage-maker. I found a 1998 Nissan Altima with clean papers, but I still brought it to my mechanic. Smart move: He showed me evidence of a serious prior accident and questionable maintenance.
So, I instead drove away in a just-off-lease 1996 Honda Accord. It wasn’t flashy or fun, but it delivered 100,000 trouble-free miles.
Now, flip this script and imagine that the asset involved is a new or brokerage-market yacht. Wouldn’t you like more insight into the vessel’s entire history?
Radian IoT Inc. provides information about a boat’s real-time location, inventory list and maintenance schedule, and how, when and where the boat has been or is being used. Yes, customers can use Radian’s device to power on or off compatible onboard devices and systems, but the device can also generate cloud-based geofences and huge amounts of vessel data.
Radian’s cellular-enabled M2 is a stand-alone IP67-rated black-box hub for sensors and communications. The M2 has an embedded three-axis accelerometer, a thermometer and battery-voltage sensors, and can connect to two hard-wired external sensors and pair with 24 Bluetooth-enabled devices. Additionally, the M2 has a built-in date-and-time clock, a 56-channel GNSS receiver, embedded memory that’s unaffected by power cycling, a five-year internal lithium battery (plus the ability to run off 12-volt power underway), NMEA 2000 and J1939 compliancy, and the ability to tackle over-the-air updates and configurations. Customers can also purchase external sensors for things like bilge pumps and water levels, and connect the sensors via hard-wiring.
Each M2 also has a 4G LTE Cat 1 cellular modem that can simultaneously run off three separate carrier networks and that is backward-compatible with 3G networks for use in 130 countries. The M2 reports its data at variable rates when connectivity exists; if the yacht exits coverage, the system briefcases its reports and cloud-loads them when connected.
Once data reaches Radian’s Amazon Web Services-based cloud, Radian’s in-house data scientists and AWS’ artificial intelligence sift through the ones and zeros for what Joe Czarnecky, Radian’s CEO, terms “the nuggets.” Depending on how the system is configured, and when and how it’s being used, this data can be made available to the vessel’s manufacturer, financiers, dealers, OEMs, customers and service providers.
“This is a data business,” Czarnecky says. “We have to have a great piece of hardware, but we’re really a data company, supplying data for that consumer all the way back to the dealer and manufacturer.”
Radian M2 boxes ($225 to $350, depending on their sensor payload) can be installed at the factory, or by a dealer or owner. Radian is currently supplying M2 boxes as OEM equipment to about a dozen boat manufacturers. So far, the system has been installed on thousands of new and brokerage yachts.
Scott Crutchfield, Radian’s president and founder, likens M2 boxes to SiriusXM satellite-radio receivers—standard equipment that requires a third-party subscription. In Radian’s case, airtime costs $9 per month. Once deals close, owners elect how much information they share via a series of opt-in and opt-out choices.
“We’re proud of this part,” Czarnecky says, because customers don’t “feel like their privacy is being jeopardized.” Customers can, for example, share their vessel’s health data with their dealership but decline to divulge information about their helm-time habits.
In the case of a new build with a factory-installed M2, there are three main groups of Radian-generated-data consumers: manufacturers, dealers and financiers, and customers.
Crutchfield says the manufacturer can detail up to 280 attributes about a particular yacht. “We capture the entire build sheet,” he says, adding that this helps OEM-level manufacturers optimize their billing and supply chains. Once a vessel leaves the yard, the system allows all interested parties to track the vessel’s journey to the dealership, and it gives the manufacturer insight into popular configurations.
On the dealership and finance level, Radian data can do things like provide insight into delivery times and delayed shipments, track how long each vessel has been in inventory, and track demo trips. Dealers can set geofences that trigger notifications anytime the yacht leaves the marina, and they have 24/7 access to its real-time location. The system also records the time and date that an owner officially takes possession, and it registers the vessel’s warranty.
Longer term and with the owner’s opt-in, dealers and service providers can monitor the vessel’s health and advise owners on maintenance.
Post-sale, owners can access and manage M2-gathered information via Radian’s IQ app, a web-based user interface; or a compatible multifunction display, letting them know where the boat is at any time and what happened on each trip. Here, the M2’s three-axis accelerometer and GNSS receiver capture where, when, how long, how fast and how hard a vessel was used. The system can detect abnormal vibrations, impacts, G-forces and temperatures.
In addition, owners can set an unlimited number of geofences. If these are breached, the system can alert multiple recipients via email or text.
Depending on an owner’s preferences, Radian can make onboard data and geofence information available to third parties, including engine manufacturers and insurance companies. For instance, Radian is working with multiple insurers that plan to offer discounts to owners who divulge their data.
If Radian’s technology sounds like it could add honesty to buying, maintaining and selling yachts, you’re on the right tack. One can also imagine that Radian-gathered data will be valuable to manufacturers, dealers and consumers as vessels age. So, for anyone considering a new or brokerage yacht, ask if the dealership or firm works with Radian. If you’re already an owner, it could be worth calling your insurer to see if installing an M2 could lower your rates.
For everyone else, wait a few years, and that next brokerage experience could be a lot more transparent than my close shave with that lemon on wheels so long ago.
While Radian IoT provides a wealth of information, installation can take mere minutes. The key, according to company officials, is to mount it someplace discreet. The device has embedded tamper detection, so if thieves find it while attempting to abscond with a boat, this too shall be recorded and reported.