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The Future of Marine Audio: Getting Displays Right

It’s an exciting time in the marine industry.

As new technologies become available on a near daily basis, the levels of innovation are sky rocketing. Year on year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association has been receiving record breaking numbers of entries, and the competition is fierce.

Here at Fusion, we’re determined to not only keep up with this fast innovation, but lead the industry as we design our marine audio systems. For us, it’s about lifting the usability and performance of our products to greater heights, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with marine audio.

And we believe that to do this, it starts with getting audio display systems right.

Fusion Apollo 770
Getting up to speed on displays

Before we can look at innovating for the future, it’s important to understand the current state of play in the marine audio industry.

Ask any boatie, and they’ll tell you that marine electronics have moved predominantly towards having touch screen displays. Gone are the days of stereos being big black boxes with dozens of buttons—today, consumers are demanding sleek, compact touch screens.

Fusion Apollo 770 with Garmin MFDs installed on a Streamline

However, when it comes to touchscreens, there are a range of different approaches that can be taken. What we’ve seen from some players in the industry is a trend of moving towards touch screen displays, but without the appropriate investment in the technology. The result? Clunky, unresponsive screens which aren’t worth their weight—you know the type you have to press 50 times, at exactly the right angle, to turn the volume up.

Beyond the touch screen trend, the main display innovations are around accessibility. Manufacturers are making screens as bright as possible, in the knowledge that marine conditions are variable, and often harsh. Following in the footsteps of technology leaders such as Apple, a move towards simplicity has occurred—crisp, clear displays that only serve the functional purpose are what consumers demand.

Our Apollo 770 is the world’s first marine stereo to feature a touch screen – in an elegant one-piece glass display that’s still easy to operate even with wet fingers. The future is here!

From phone, to car, to boat

There’s no reason your boat’s audio system should be the inferior technology in your life.

You can stream music instantly on your phone, connect to apps, download wirelessly at any time… So why should those features be excluded from your boat’s audio system?

We’ve seen this trend in the automotive industry already. Consumers are increasingly demanding that cars offer the same level of integration and performance as their smart phones—just take a look at the dashboard of any recent model car, and chances are, it’ll look pretty similar to the display of a smartphone (in fact, many vehicles allow you to mirror your mobile screen on your dashboard display, literally replicating the phone’s functionality!).

Here at Fusion, we believe this same degree of performance should be available when you launch out onto the water as well. Marine audio systems should have a display just as powerful as a smartphone—no more low-tech, clunky touch screens, just slick, integrated screens.

The importance of usability

Despite the strong influence of smart phones and automotive technology, it’s also critical to remember that marine audio systems function in a unique environment.

For one, they’re often a technology that needs to be accessible to the whole family. Whereas in a car, the driver is able to control its sound system at the click of a button, often on a boat, it’s not that simple. Dad might be out on the deck firing up the BBQ, and Mum might be taking a nap down in the cabin—neither of these should be reasons to limit your audio experience. By having a system simple enough to be operated by all members of the family, things are just more enjoyable.

Conditions on a boat are also far less predictable than in the home, or in a car. Who knows when you’ll have your hands full, or wet, or covered in ketchup! Again, this shouldn’t be a barrier to controlling your audio experience, and a great marine audio system allows for these changing conditions.

Looking ahead to the future

Aiming to cater to the trends of the future, Fusion recently launched its Apollo line of marine audio systems.

When it comes to display, our systems have a few stand out features that lead our industry when it comes to accessibility and performance.

Firstly, a touchscreen that actually works—all the time. No low-grade technology, only a pristine, one-piece glass face that will respond to your touch, even if the fingers are a little grubby.

Secondly, we’ve retained the volume dial on all our systems, because despite the beauty of touch screens, we know it’s sometimes just easier to turn a knob when you’re on the fly.

And finally, our display systems are fully integrated with your smartphone. From your pocket, you can control what’s coming out of those speakers with our Fusion-Link app —now that’s accessibility! Not only this, but with our Wi-Fi integration, your Fusion display system can automatically update itself.

Ultimately, we believe in providing you with the best audio experience possible. Just because you’re out on the water doesn’t mean you should compromise.