AISDetective is an OS X application for the Mac that lets you track ships and other targets that broadcast AIS signals. Targets are displayed graphically over free maps from OpenStreetMap. Watch as ships move in real time across the map; go back in time to review your historical sightings; study details of individual targets; attach photos; measure distances from other targets and monitor the risk of collisions; upload data to online vessel tracking sites... the feature list is long.

Why did we develop AISDetective? Another Wind Vector application, PassagePlus, also features AIS tracking, but PassagePlus is primarily a navigation application for sailors and uses top quality nautical charts, which can be quite expensive. We found that a number of users were buying PassagePlus and charts of their local area purely so that they could do shore-based shipspotting. So we developed AISDetective specifically to meet the needs of shipspotters. It does not have navigation features and is able to use free online maps from OpenStreetMap anywhere in the world, making it a much cheaper option. On top of that it has a number of features that cater specifically to the shipspotter.

AISDetective requires OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later. You will need an AIS receiver that can be attached to a USB port, typically via a Serial:USB adapter, and you should install the relevant OS X driver for that receiver. A Bluetooth connection would also work. WiFi connection is not available at present. The receiver must be capable of outputting NMEA O183. You can also attach a GPS unit if you wish to display your own position. An internet connection is necessary in order to display the maps.

You can download AISDetective free of charge from this site and try it out in demo mode for as long as you like. If you like it, buy a licence for US$40 (plus VAT where applicable). Demo mode has all features enabled, except that a maximum of 30 targets is displayed and you cannot upload to online vessel tracking sites. Buy a licence to remove those restrictions.

AISDetective is a Wind Vector product Wind Vector Ltd 2013