Kiwis make sound waves
High-end New Zealand developer of marine entertainment systems Fusion Electronics has beaten aside the global industry big four to take away major industry awards.
Fusion Electronics’ line of high-performance marine-grade stereo system, the 700 Series, received the 2012 National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) Technology Award at its conference and expo.
The Technology Award is the NMEA’s most prestigious honour, singling out the overall best marine electronics product in the industry, based on a combination of innovative design, benefits to boaters, practicality and value.
The Fusion 700 Series has been an ongoing winner for the company. It has also taken Fusion Electronics to a finalist placing in the 2011 Marine equipment Trade Show’s DAME design awards, as well as an honourable mention at the Miami Boat Show.
“Our Fusion 700 series is being hailed as the most innovative marine entertainment system in the world,” Fusion Electronics chief executive Chris Baird says.
“Among its standout features are NMEA 2000 connectivity, wireless ethernet control via iPad and iPhone app, Fusion-Link connectivity and control of four independent audio zones of the vessel.”
NMEA 2000 is the standard marine protocol that gives boats wired into it the ability to communicate with each other.
Fusion-Link allows compatible Multi-Function Displays (MFD) the ability to interface and achieve full control of FUSION’s specialised marine entertainment equipment. By using a MFD as the entertainment control centre for the vessel a simplified and integrated entertainment experience is created.
Fusion Electronics was formed to meet the demand for top quality acoustic systems for cars, boats and lifestyle situations. The company is owned by Kiwi entrepreneur Sir Peter Maire, who earlier founded and developed Navman into a global brand.
The core of Fusion Electronics is a team of 19 specialist engineers who have established an extensive R&D capability and developed significant intellectual property.
Fusion is currently on a growth path for its Auckland R&D base as well as its outlets in Europe, the US and Australia.
“We are particularly proud that our small multinational team has taken on the big, very well-resourced players in the marine market and forced a prominent niche for Fusion,” Mr Baird says.
“Not only have we shown that top New Zealand engineers don’t have to leave the country to work at the top of their profession, but we are among the companies that have shown there is a place for well-qualified Kiwis to come home to.”
The products Fusion has designed for the car and lifestyle audio market have been recognised for their quality, but there have been many added hurdles to overcome in developing robust, ease of use and pristine sound systems for marine applications.
Fusion requires its products to perform season after season even in some of the harshest marine conditions. With this longevity in mind, all marine products are designed and engineered from the ground up specifically for use on the water.
Environmental protection is at the heart of all its product designs and only after each product has been subjected to rigorous testing to extreme conditions are they marketed with a three-year worldwide consumer warranty.
Fusion did its market research carefully when designing the 700 Series marine stereo.
One fact that emerged was that potential buyers preferred a turning button volume control rather than a touch pad.
The problem with button controls is that they are hard to make waterproof, but the Fusion engineers managed to circumvent water ingress as well as any hazards that can occur.
Making any Fusion marine product safe requires a thorough understanding of the hazards that exist in electrical products – risks surrounding electrical shock, mechanical or physical injury, low voltage/high energy, or fire. Fusion takes the evaluation of these hazards even more seriously when testing their marine electronics.
“We ensure that electro static disturbance does not affect the operation of any FUSION device and we are proud to say that all electronic products adhere to global industry guidelines," Mr Baird says.
All Fusion marine products, whether they be entertainment systems, speakers, subwoofers or wired remote control solutions, are IP (Ingress Protection) rated to at least an IPx5 level.
This indicates a product’s protection against both solid foreign objects and moisture intrusion – both important factors for a product’s durability and lifespan on the water.
“Fusion is on a mission to become an internationally successful brand that is proudly based in New Zealand and taking on the world’s best,” Mr Baird adds.
“The markets overseas are tough to break into and then it can be equally hard to maintain that business, but if done successfully the rewards are large.
“A good spread of business is probably the most important area to concentrate on for all international companies. Kiwi businesses can get out there and succeed against the ‘big boys’ and then also teach them a thing or two!”