Spotter Platform

Introducing Spotter + Smart Mooring

Sofar Ocean

What’s the weather like in San Francisco right now? Getting an answer is easy, fast, and accurate. What about 5 miles offshore, at a depth of 12 meters? That’s harder to answer. We’re making it easier with a Smart Mooring system that can be added to the Spotter buoy.

This new Smart Mooring provides modularity to fit a wide variety of roles with a single universal interface. The Spotter buoy provides power and connectivity for seamless real-time access to data. The Spotter + Smart Mooring system will give researchers, coastal engineers, and anybody who’s wanted to know what’s going on down there hyper-localized or regional awareness of any parameter traditionally monitored by set and forget loggers. This means that practically any data logger can be converted to realtime.

Sofar Ocean Technologies has built and deployed hundreds of Spotter buoys, creating the largest privately-owned marine weather sensor network in the world. This network of buoys is filling in the gaps in collected real-time ocean and weather data. Now we’re bringing that new level of insight underwater.

Real-time data from below the surface

There’s a critical missing layer of ocean data: real-time information from below the surface. Satellite data has created large amounts of data to be collected from the sea surface — in real-time, but lacking depth. New and ever-cheaper data loggers are giving us insight into subsurface environments, but it’s months or sometimes years before their retrieval. The Smart Mooring provides the best of both worlds. 

One advantage of real-time monitoring over traditional data logging is that there is no missing data due to failure or loss of the device. A common complaint of using loggers is that there’s no way to tell after installation if the logger is still collecting data, if it’s lost its calibration, or if it is functioning correctly. With a Smart Mooring system, the data quality and assurance is immediate and constant.

Another big advantage of real-time monitoring is that there are no limitations to the deployment time due to power or data storage limitations. While many modern loggers have large battery and storage capacity, some situations require sensors that have higher power needs that can’t be met easily with battery power alone.

Lastly, real-time monitoring provides peace of mind. Since each unit is equipped with GPS mounted on a surface buoy it’s far easier to locate or recover if lost or misplaced.

Easy to Deploy

The Smart Mooring system operates with power, data, and mechanical fastening handled by a single simplified cable. 

Combining power and data on a single, thin cable overcomes several challenges with moored systems. First, there is less weight and less mass for deployment. Less drag means that less weight and flotation are needed to secure the mooring in place. The Smart Mooring system is small and lightweight enough that it can be deployed by a small boat. Less weight and size also means that the Smart Mooring can be shipped economically via air freight or standard ground transportation. It can be easily hand-carried and loaded into commercial or freight (UPS, FedEx, DHL) flights.

The cable is Kevlar reinforced and capable of three kilonewtons of force, plenty to haul up sizable anchor weights. In addition to being functional, it’s incredibly strong and abrasion-resistant for tough maritime applications.


The revolutionary concept of the Smart Mooring is that each part of the system is configurable and customizable. Each cable length (available in various sizes from 5m to 50m) can be connected to a sensor node, a mooring termination, or another length of cable with only simple hand tools in the field. Each sensor node is itself configurable and swappable--allowing for the use of a different sensor at each node. 

Spotter Smart Mooring Schematic

The entire Smart Mooring system was designed with OEMs and integrators in mind—both for new devices and sensors as well as the integration of existing hardware. The data flow to and from these devices and sensors will be accessible via the API and supported with developer tools and examples.

Creating a Platform: the Future of the Smart Mooring

It’s not enough to have a specialized piece of equipment. It’s necessary to approach coastal and ocean challenges from a systematic approach. Tim Janssen, CEO at Sofar, says:

“One of the biggest barriers to ocean sensing and monitoring is the lack of a universal connector and communication protocol. We’re out to change that. The Smart Mooring is built on top of Sofar’s open standard...we want you to be able to use any sensor you want, and place them where you want them. The variation is limitless. All connectors are identical, and everything is interchangeable. We like the ease and flexibility of USB, so we decided to build it for ocean sensing. Plug it in and the data shows up on your Dashboard and API, it is that simple.”

OnePlug Sensor Node
The customizable nature is due in part to OnePlug, our connectivity protocol that makes connecting sensor easy.

The Smart Mooring is a platform for our partners to build with for industry-specific applications. We currently have two configurations for you to purchase, or reach out to sales to customize your own configuration.

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