How the Blueye Observer app makes underwater operations safer and more efficient

Thursday, January 21, 2021 / The Blueye Office

One of the first things we did in 2021 was to release the Blueye Observer App. We are renaming the Blueye Dive Buddy App that we introduced in June 2019, and are adding some significant new features, including support for Windows.

The Blueye Observer App allows multiple people to connect to the drone and view the video stream at the same time. Having more eyes on the ball can help increase the efficiency and quality of an inspection or underwater operation.

This blog post will cover the new features introduced in this update before describing a use case where the Blueye Observer App was an essential contributor to an underwater operation's success. Finally, I will shed some light on our roadmap and strategy for software at Blueye.

What's new in Blueye Observer v2.0

The Blueye Observer App is a light-weight companion to the full Blueye App, with a limited set of features. After installing it on your Android device, iOS device or Windows computer, connect to the drone Wi-Fi and launch the application. The video stream appears instantly, along with telemetry data such as temperature, depth, heading, recording status, and battery level.

Screenshot of Blueye Observer App running on an iPhone and a Windows computer.
Screenshot of the Blueye Observer App running on an iPhone and a Windows computer.

In this release, we made the following improvements:

  • Rename the app from Blueye Dive Buddy to Blueye Observer
  • Add Windows support
  • Improve performance of video stream
  • Double-tap the video to change between Stretch and Aspect Fit sizing of video
  • Add setting to select temperature unit (Celsius or Fahrenheit)
  • Add setting to select depth unit (Meters or Feet)
  • Display recording status in the status bar

Perhaps the biggest news is support for Windows, in the form of a public beta release, allowing users to use a standard Windows laptop to view the video stream.

You can learn more about the Blueye Observer App for Windows and how to install it in our Help Center.

Blueye Observer app inspecting a damaged rudder
Blueye Observer app inspecting a damaged rudder.

Mounting a 9-ton fender dolphin

From time to time, the Port Authority of Horten needs to replace large fender dolphins in their port due to wear and tear or damages caused by ferries bumping into them with too much force.

Positioning a 9-ton fender is not easy without eyes below the surface. In the past, they would have to hire scuba-divers to assist in the operation by guiding the crane operator over the radio. With a Blueye drone piloted by the Port Authority of Horten, the crane operator can watch for himself using the Observer App as he mounts the fender in place on the seabed.

Eliminating the need for divers in this operation helps reduce cost and improve safety of personnel (HSEQ).

Video filmed by Port Authority of Horten, showing how the dolphin fender is mounted on the seabed. Video: Port Authority of Horten

Software at Blueye

At Blueye, we make products that last, and we want our customers to have the best inspection tool on the market. Software is a crucial ingredient to the user experience of owning and operating a Blueye drone. Upgradable software, both on the drone itself and in the supporting apps, is a vital way to ensure the value of your Blueye increases over time.

Since the initial release of the Blueye Pioneer, these are some of the features we have delivered as free software upgrades:

These are just some examples of essential improvements delivered as software updates. You can find a complete version history in our Help Center:

Choice of platform

Our decision to operate our drones from standard iOS or Android devices is rooted in a strategy and vision where the Blueye App is part of a broader mobile ecosystem. Our customers can take advantage of the latest and most powerful mobile phones or tablets on the market and expect the Blueye app to integrate well with the platform. Together with constant software updates this will improve the value of your Blueye drones over time.

Today, we deliver the following software on different platforms and operating systems:

iOS Android macOS Windows Linux
Blueye App
Blueye Observer App
Blueye File Transfer
Blueye SDK

 Only available on Mac computers with the M1 or other Apple Silicon processor.

The Blueye Software Development Kit is used for research and custom integrations. We also release Blunux which is the drone firmware installed through the Blueye App.

At the end of 2020, Apple released new Macs with the same processor architecture as iPad and iOS, enabling users to run iPad apps directly on macOS. The Blueye App and Blueye Observer apps are already available in the macOS App Store for Macs running the M1 chip.

We also have plans to bring the Blueye App to Windows and Macs running Intel processors in the future (2022) through the Microsoft .NET MAUI framework. For our customers, that means that you will be able to control the drone directly from your Mac or PC, giving you even more choice over which platform best suits your needs.