Perspective The Raven Innovation Summit has fast become one of the most enjoyable field events that ag editors get invited to attend. If there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s transparency and flexibility. And we all were able to move about as we pleased and talk to pretty much anyone we wanted to about anything.
The day-plus that we were able to attend included an immersion in new products soon to be released, ride and drive opportunities, and lots of open time to network and learn. Here’s a quick look at what’s coming in the months ahead.
New Viper Gets Tablet-y. At long last, the stalwart top end Viper Pro display is being replaced with a new generation, the Viper 4. The 12.1 inch touchscreen looks huge, and the form and feel of the unit moves clearly toward a tablet model with app-like screen buttons and swipe functions in several areas. The screen is touch sensitive, but does not require it be a finger – a pen or similar object can act as a stylus, which is convenient for applicators with gloved or dirty hands.
The Viper 4 provides a customizable user interface utilizing the new Raven Operating Software. Machine and user profiles, as well as grower-farm-field information, can be set up, expediting job start-up and streamlining information management functionality. The ability to customize screens and move tools and indicators around was pretty slick. The unit also has the AgX database built into the machine, so it’s easy to find and pull up product names and information to build prescription applications.
Overall, it moves closer to the iPad experience that so many farmers, consultants and agronomists are becoming accustomed to using, which hopefully will encourage late precision adopters to consider a purchase, and not just enthusiastic early adopters looking for the next big thing.
The Viper 4 is expected to be available in late September, and orders for the new unit will be taken beginning August 1.
Other Product Enhancements. Raven announced in March that it would be making its entrée into the steering wheel mounted mechanical autosteer market with the release of SmarTrax MD. Slated for July release, the unit features a geared steering wheel that replaces the original equipment, and a drive mechanism that clamps onto the gear like a Master lock. Kits will be available for most tractor models, and is effective at any level of GPS accuracy.
Raven also announced the availability of its Slingshot Field Hub as Wi-Fi enabled, which will be compatible with major cell carriers. The Wi-Fi Field Hub will create a hot spot, allowing up to five devices to connect at one time.
Other announcements include the addition of a multi-hybrid system to Raven’s OmniRow advanced planter control solution, which can be combined with variable rate seeding to increase yield potential and profitability. And on the water management side, Raven unveiled a new partnership with AMW Machine Control, a water management solutions company that’s been doing work in Michigan and Ohio in the construction and agriculture markets.