What's in the name Cortex

What’s in a name?

Cortex started life with the name "Marlin", named after Nemo's dad from Finding Nemo. Having called earlier product development projects "Nemo" and "Dory", Marlin seemed like the next logical choice.

After referring to it internally as "Project Marlin" for a few years, the name had stuck and we toyed with using Marlin as the official name for our amazing new product platform. But it didn’t convey how ground-breaking our new technology was going to be.

So, we set our marketing team a challenge – come up with a name that is:

A) distinctive
B) provide clarity about what is so special about "Marlin"
C) multi-lingual
D) short

There were lots of ideas from several different directions. We had to remind ourselves that when brainstorming, there is no such thing as a bad idea - even though some were a little average.

The first round of ideas focused on Marlin being smart, clever and learning. It would be in the centre of a boat's system – watching for other boats, listening to your sensors, alerting you when something is wrong and letting you speak to other boats. With ongoing updates, it was going to get smarter.

Marlin, as well as being the most advanced VHF in the world, was like a brain.

So out came suggestions like Axon (nerve fibres), Thalamus (the part of the brain that receives information from our senses), Gamma (the fastest brainwaves) and Instinct (innate response to stimuli). Each of these were quickly rejected – Axon was too similar to a term already used in marine, so isn't unique enough. Thalamus was such a mouthful we couldn’t imagine it working. Gamma wasn’t particularly clever or unique and Instinct was far too vague.

One name survived that first cut because it was immediately recognisable as representing intelligence, thinking and a brain. It hadn't really been used for a marine product and in a number of languages was spelled the same, or similar to, the English spelling. That name was Cortex – referring to the outer layer of the cerebrum, called the cerebral cortex. It plays an important role in human consciousness and offered a metaphor of how Project Marlin would ultimately support boaters at sea.

But we weren't going to let our marketing department off that easily. We then asked them to come up with a bunch of other ideas, test our choice and make sure it was as solid as it could be. We considered a Maori name, giving homage to being headquartered in New Zealand. There were ideas with superb meanings like Matai (the sea or ocean), Hone (ocean swell), Mohio (knowledge and wisdom) and Ohiti (to be alert, vigilant). But they all required explanation - we ideally wanted a name that people would inherently understand and take meaning from.

Other ideas failed for the same reason, even though they were quite clever (or so our marketing department told us). TIVAX, they argued, was a clever reference to TX comms, VHF and AIS. AIX was a simplified version of the same idea.

But we kept coming back to Cortex. We felt it summed up what made "Project Marlin" so special.

Cortex - the brain of your boat.

The final word however, goes to Marlin. As a nod to "Project Marlin", we named the Hub (the brain of the Cortex solution) the M1. "M" for "Marlin".