Seakeeper’s Super Spinning System Keeps Ships Stable at Sea

The sun has burned through the early morning marine layer, and the breeze is gentle and warm enough for me to abandon my hoodie. It looks like a perfect day to head out onto the Pacific Ocean. But as soon as we exit the harbor walls at Marina Del Rey, near Los Angeles, the 29-foot sport-fishing boat starts to heave.

“We have some great waves out here today,” says Kelsey Albina, one of my guides for the day. I’m glad I haven’t had lunch yet, I think, as we thrust through waves, rolling from side to side. Then the captain taps a touchscreen on the helm. Like a movie set at lunch time, everything seems to freeze. The swaying stops. I can stand again without clutching the railing. The boat still rocks gently front to back as it crests and descends each wave, but the violence of a moment ago is gone.

I walk steadily to the back of the boat and look under a deck hatch to see the device responsible. In what would have been empty, or storage space, a white metal version of a beach ball sits suspended in a cradle. Inside that, a 500-pound, doughnut-shaped flywheel is spinning in a vacuum, clocking 8,450 revolutions every minute. This gyroscope, about the size of a large microwave, is keeping the large boat stable—a boon for sailors (like me) who don’t have their sea legs yet. This is the Seakeeper, made by the company of the same name.

Inside what looks like a beach ball, a 500-pound, donut-shaped flywheel spins in a vacuum, clocking 8,450 revolutions every minute to counteract the force of the waves.

Seakeeper Inc.

Any spinning object works as a gyroscope, moving to counteract any force that tries to change its orientation. That’s how a spinning top stays upright, even when flicked. Such freaky physics makes gyros ideal for stabilizing satellites or, in miniature, for guidance on ships and missiles, where they provide navigation systems with a steady frame of reference. The designer of the 1967 Gryo-X used one to make the narrow vehicle stand on two wheels. The Gyrowheel offered the kids of 2011 a way to ride a bike without training wheels. (You won’t find either for sale today.)

Here, Seakeeper’s gyro serves to keep things steady on the high seas. As the boat rolls left or right, the gyro swings forward and backward in that cradle. That delivers torque, or rotational force, to the port or starboard, counteracting the motion of the entire boat. (You can try an experiment for yourself—sit on a swivel chair and hold a spinning bike wheel in front of you, like these folks at the University of Texas.)

A braking mechanism uses accelerometers to monitor the gyro’s swivel speed and slows it down in especially rough seas to stop it slamming from side to side. “We synchronize the gyro with the waves so we get a nice, stable, corrective force,” says Nick Troche, Seakeeper’s manager of new product development.

A couple of black hoses pipe cold seawater through a heat exchanger to keep the bearings on the flywheel cool. The whole thing can be bolted or even glued into place in a boat made of wood, metal, or fiberglass. The Maryland-based company has sold about 6,000 units, both as retrofits to existing boats and as factory-installed options on new vessels. The flywheels come in various sizes for monohull boats (sorry, no catamarans) from 25 feet to more than 85 feet long. The unit can slot into any spare space under the floor or in a locker; it doesn’t even have to be on the centerline of the boat to work. It takes about 45 minutes to spin the flywheel up to working speed, but once it’s going, you can leave it running for days, particularly if the boat is hooked up to shore power, so it won’t drain the boat’s batteries.

Staying level might, however, drain your bank account: Seakepeer’s system costs at least $22,000, and runs up to $200,000, depending on size. But if you can afford a boat, you can likely afford this thing. Troche’s team is working to make smaller and cheaper versions for shorter boats.

Other approaches to stabilize boats have relied on a kind of active suspension, like Velodyne Marine’s Martini 1.5, designed to make high-speed boating safer, which could be crucial in search-and-rescue operations. (Its creator is Dave Hall, the guy who made the first lidar for self-driving cars.)

As I relax into enjoying the now stabilized boat ride, I wonder who Seakeeper’s customers are. For anyone who takes pride in their boating skills, it seems like cheating. But pretty much everyone who tries it likes it, says Berkeley Andrews, who manages West Coast sales for Seakeeper. “It changes the game for everyone on the boat, as far as comfort, safety, and the performance of the vessel,” he says. “Fatigue is a big thing in boating, and people make mistakes or get sick.”

Getting rid of the extra sway makes things more comfortable for even the most experienced crews, as well as newbies. As one of the latter, I can confirm boating is more fun when you’re not queasy.

Seakeeper’s Super Spinning System holds Ships Stable at Sea

The sun has burned through morning hours marine layer, therefore the breeze is gentle and warm enough for me personally to abandon my hoodie. It looks like an amazing time to leave on the Pacific Ocean. But once we exit the harbor walls at Marina Del Rey, near Los Angeles, the 29-foot sport-fishing ship starts to heave.

“We involve some great waves out right here today,” says Kelsey Albina, among my guides for the time. I’m happy i’ven’t had meal yet, i believe, even as we thrust through waves, rolling laterally. Then your captain taps a touchscreen on the helm. Just like a film set at lunchtime, every thing appears to freeze. The swaying stops. I can stay once again without clutching the railing. The ship still rocks carefully front to straight back because it crests and descends each revolution, but the physical violence of a minute ago is gone.

We walk steadily towards straight back of watercraft and appearance under a deck hatch to see the device accountable. In exactly what could have been empty, or space for storing, a white metal version of a coastline ball sits suspended in a cradle. Inside that, a 500-pound, doughnut-shaped flywheel is spinning in vacuum pressure, clocking 8,450 revolutions every minute. This gyroscope, about the size of the big microwave oven, is keeping the big watercraft stable—a boon for sailors (just like me) who don’t have their sea feet yet. This is the Seakeeper, made by the organization of the same title.

Inside just what seems like a beach ball, a 500-pound, donut-shaped flywheel spins in vacuum pressure, clocking 8,450 revolutions every moment to counteract the force of this waves.

Seakeeper Inc.

Any spinning item works as being a gyroscope, going to counteract any force that attempts to alter its orientation. That’s what sort of spinning top remains upright, even if flicked. Such freaky physics makes gyros ideal for stabilizing satellites or, in miniature, for guidance on ships and missiles, where they supply systems having constant framework of guide. The designer associated with the 1967 Gryo-X utilized anyone to make the narrow automobile stand on two tires. The Gyrowheel offered the youngsters of 2011 a method to ride a bike without training tires. (You won’t find either obtainable today.)

Here, Seakeeper’s gyro serves to keep things steady regarding the high seas. As the boat rolls left or appropriate, the gyro swings ahead and backward because cradle. That provides torque, or rotational force, towards the slot or starboard, counteracting the movement associated with the whole watercraft. (You can try an experiment for yourself—sit for a swivel chair and hold a spinning bike wheel in front of you, like these people within University of Texas.)

A braking mechanism makes use of accelerometers observe the gyro’s swivel speed and slows it down in especially rough seas to prevent it slamming laterally. “We synchronize the gyro with the waves so we obtain a nice, stable, corrective force,” states Nick Troche, Seakeeper’s manager of the latest item development.

A few black colored hoses pipe cold seawater through a heat exchanger to keep the bearings on the flywheel cool. The whole thing could be bolted or glued into devote a motorboat made from wood, metal, or fiberglass. The Maryland-based business has sold about 6,000 units, both as retrofits to current ships so that as factory-installed choices on new vessels. The flywheels are available in different sizes for monohull boats (sorry, no catamarans) from 25 foot to a lot more than 85 foot long. The unit can slot into any free area in flooring or in a locker; it doesn’t have to be in the centerline of this watercraft to get results. It takes about 45 mins to spin the flywheel up to working rate, but when it’s going, you’ll leave it running for days, especially if the ship is hooked up to shore energy, so it won’t strain the boat’s batteries.

Staying degree might, but strain your money: Seakepeer’s system costs at least $22,000, and runs around $200,000, according to size. However, if you are able to manage a ship, you can likely pay for this thing. Troche’s group is attempting to make smaller and cheaper versions for faster boats.

Other methods to support boats have actually relied for a type of active suspension, like Velodyne Marine’s Martini 1.5, built to make high-speed boating safer, that could be crucial in search-and-rescue operations. (Its creator is Dave Hall, the man whom made the initial lidar for self-driving vehicles.)

When I relax into enjoying the now stabilized watercraft ride, I wonder who Seakeeper’s customers are. Proper who takes pride within their boating abilities, it looks like cheating. But pretty much everyone else who tries it likes it, states Berkeley Andrews, whom manages West Coast sales for Seakeeper. “It changes the game for everyone included, as far as comfort, security, and the performance of the vessel,” he says. “Fatigue is just a big thing in sailing, and folks make errors or get unwell.”

Getting rid of the additional sway makes things more comfortable even for the absolute most experienced crews, including newbies. As one of the latter, I can verify boating is more fun whenever you’re perhaps not queasy.

Online Ad Targeting Does Work—As Long As It’s Not Creepy

If you click on the right-hand corner of any advertisement on Facebook, the social network will tell you why it was targeted to you. But what would happen if those buried targeting tactics were transparently displayed, right next to the ad itself? That’s the question at the heart of new research from Harvard Business School published in the Journal of Consumer Research. It turns out advertising transparency can be good for a platform—but it depends on how creepy marketer methods are.

The study has wide-reaching implications for advertising giants like Facebook and Google, which increasingly find themselves under pressure to disclose more about their targeting practices. The researchers found, for example, that consumers are reluctant to engage with ads that they know have been served based on their activity on third-party websites, a tactic Facebook and Google routinely use. Which also suggests that tech giants have a financial incentive to ensure users aren’t aware, at least up front, about how some ads are served.

Don’t Talk Behind My Back

For their study, Tami Kim, Kate Barasz and Leslie K. John conducted a number of online advertising experiments to understand the effect transparency has on user behavior. They found that if sites tell you they’re using unsavory tactics—like tracking you across the web—you’re far less likely to engage with their ads. The same goes for other invasive methods, like inferring something about your life when you haven’t explicitly provided that information. A famous example of this is from 2012, when Target began sending a woman baby-focused marketing mailers, inadvertently divulging to her father that she was pregnant.

“I think it will be interesting to see how firms respond in this age of increasing transparency,” says John, a professor at Harvard Business School and one of the authors of the paper. “Third-party data sharing obviously plays a big part in behaviorally targeted advertising. And behaviorally targeted advertising has been shown to be very effective—in that it increases sales. But our research shows that when we become aware of third-party sharing—and also of firms making inferences about us—we feel intruded upon and as a result ad effectiveness can decline.”

The researchers didn’t find, however, that users react poorly to all forms of ad transparency. If companies readily disclose that they employ targeting methods perceived to be acceptable, like recommending products based on items you’ve clicked in the past, people will make purchases all the same. And the study suggests that if people already trust the platform where those ads are displayed, they might even be more likely to click and buy.

‘When we become aware of third-party sharing—and also of firms making inferences about us—we feel intruded upon.’

Leslie K. John, Harvard Business School

The researchers say their findings mimic social truths in the real world. Tracking users across websites is viewed as an an inappropriate flow of information, like talking behind a friend’s back. Similarly, making inferences is often seen as unacceptable, even if you’re drawing a conclusion the other person would freely disclose. For example, you might tell a friend that you’re trying to lose weight, but find it inappropriate for him to ask if you want to shed some pounds. The same sort of rules apply to the online world, according to the study.

“And this brings to the topic that excites me the most—norms in the digital space are still evolving and less well understood,” says Kim, the lead author of the study and a marketing professor at the University of Virginia’s business school. “For marketers to build relationships with consumers effectively, it’s critical for firms to understand what these norms are and avoid practices that violate these norms.”

Where’d That Ad Come From?

In one experiment, the researchers recruited 449 people from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform to look at ads for a fictional bookstore. They were randomly shown two different ad-transparency messages, one saying they were targeted based on products they’ve clicked on in the past, and one saying they were targeted based on their activity on other websites. The study found that ads appended with the second message—revealing that users had been tracked across the web—were 24 percent less effective. (For the lab studies, “effectiveness” was based on how the subjects felt about the ads.)

In another experiment, the researchers looked at whether ads are less effective when companies disclose they’re making inferences about their users. In this scenario, 348 participants were shown an ad for an art gallery, along with a message saying either they were seeing the ad based on “your information that you stated about you,” or “based on your information that we inferred about you.” In this study, ads were less 17 percent effective when it was revealed that they were targeted based on things a website concluded about you on its own, rather than facts you actively provided.

The researchers found that their control ads, which didn’t have any transparency messages, performed just as well as those with “acceptable” ad-transparency disclosures—implying that being up-front about targeting might not impact a company’s bottom line, as long as it’s not being creepy. The problem is that companies do sometimes use unsettling tactics; the Intercept discovered earlier this month, for example, that Facebook has developed a service designed to serve ads based on how it predicts consumers will behave in the future.

In yet another experiment, the academics asked 462 participants to log into their Facebook accounts and look at the first ad they saw. They then were instructed to copy and paste Facebook’s “Why am I seeing this ad” message, as well as the name of the company that purchased it. Responses included standard targeting methods, like “my age I stated on my profile,” as well as invasive, distressing tactics like “my sexual orientation that Facebook inferred based on my Facebook usage.”

Journal of Consumer Research

The researchers coded these responses, and gave them each a “transparency score.” The higher the score, the more acceptable the ad-targeting practice. The subjects were then asked how interested they were in the ad, including whether they would purchase something from the company’s website. The results show participants who were served ads using acceptable practices were more likely to engage than those who were served ads based on practices perceived to be unacceptable.

Then, the researchers tested whether users who distrusted Facebook were less likely to engage with an ad; they found both that and the reverse to be true. People who trust Facebook more are more likely to engage with advertisements—though they have to be targeted in accepted ways. In other words, Facebook has a financial incentive beyond public relations to ensure users trust it. When they don’t, people engage with advertisements less.

Journal of Consumer Research

“What I think will be interesting moving forward is what users define for themselves as transparency. That definition is rapidly changing, and how platforms define it may not align with how users want or need it defined to feel like they understand,” says Susan Wenograd, a digital advertising consultant with a Facebook focus. “No one thought much of quizzes and apps being tied to Facebook before, but of course they do now since the testimony regarding Cambridge Analytica. It’s a fine line to be transparent without scaring users.”

When Transparency Works For Everyone

In some situations, according to the study, being honest about targeting practices can even lead to more clicks and purchases. In another experiment, the researchers worked with two loyalty point-redemption programs, which previous research has shown consumers trust highly. When they showed people messages next to ads saying things like “recommended based on your clicks on our site,” they were more likely to click and make purchases than if no message was present.

That says being honest can actually improve a company’s bottom line—as long as they’re not tracking and targeting users in an invasive way. As the researchers wrote, “even the most personalized, perfectly targeted advertisement will flop if the consumer is more focused on the (un)acceptability of how the targeting was done in the first place.”

The Ad Machine