Archive for May, 2013

Spyglass – the adventurer’s toolkit

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Outdoor activities are assisted with many advanced gadgets, and Spyglass is one of them. The application Spyglass is an augmented reality navigator and a compass for the off-road. As defined by Wikipedia: “augmented reality is  a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer- generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.”

Spyglass is a toolkit packed with a range of tools: a hi-tech viewfinder, milspec compass, gyrocompass, maps, tactical GPS, waypoint tracker, speedometer, altimeter, gyro horizon, sniper’s rangefinder, coordinate converter, sextant, inclinometer, angular calculator and zoom camera. Some of the facilities are explained below.

Spyglass can be used for many outdoor activities – and functional if a proper GPS connection is available.  For the less professional user, a key feature of this compass app is probably the simple location tagging. Spyglass will give the all the same info the built in compass does, but it also points to chosen direction. On the built-in map the destination is chosen and there is an arrow pointing the way no matter how confused the user is. It is also possible to indicate the destinations by bearing, latitude, longitude, altitude or MGRS (Military Grid Reference System). For star enthusiasts, it is possible to select a star to follow. Spyglass is depending on GPS, and if the user wants to pick a location on the map, though, there is a need for Internet access.

As other navigation devices, Spyglass can save, find, track and share the position, and it includes also, multiple waypoints, bearings, Sun, Moon and stars, all in real time. The user can store all locations he/she will need later on, your car’s parking place, a hotel, a hidden treasure cache in the woods, that camping place near the lake — or anything else.

Spyglass offers many other facilities, such an optical rangefinder, with which is possible to measure distances to objects in real-time with rangefinder reticle as in famous sniper scopes. With sextant, angular calculator and inclinometer, the user can visually measure the heights of buildings, mountains and other objects, and distances.

A camera may be used to take pictures overlaid with all the data to document special moments — reaching top speeds, climbing high mountains, hunting, sailing or just visiting great places and doing so with others.


Mapping sporting tracks

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Map my tracks is an app for people who want to track their routes and share their outdoor activities maps with others. The users can map their whereabouts during hiking, jogging, bike, canoeing, sailing, skiing, windsurfing, orienteering, mountaineering, horse riding, hang gliding, gliding, snowboarding, paragliding, hot air ballooning etc. The most important feature is the creation of routes on maps, which show how the user moved through the landscape.


Map My Tracks is about training smarter and improving sporting performance. It is also about sharing sporting and outdoor passion with the others in real-time. And eventually it is about keeping motivated and making training fun. Maps can be shown on the website and on the mobile device are live, and the invited observers can follow the person in activity, while the tour takes place. This facility can be of importance also for outdoor activities, where the participants are in need of virtual coaching.

Map My Tracks uploads the GPS track data directly to the user’s personal activity log on the web, and there is therefore a need for a good connection. That excludes use in very remote nature areas.

Tracks can be made private for the individual’s own use or left for all to see. Thus, the user can share the route with other on Facebook and Twitter, and comments area allowed appraising particular issues about anything that users find relevant. If used by many people there is potentially an option to build on route based content via Map my tracks. Routes nearby can be displayed as a service to new visitors till the area.

Map my tracks also includes events, for example competitions and marathons. Users can participate in events to compare their activity with others, share the progress live with online spectators and replay the action.

The device can measure the personal performance and track the speed, pace, heart rate, calories burned, duration, elevation gain/loss etc.
The users are to be registered with Map my tracks to the get full potential. There are users in all parts of the world. The app was developed by Tinderhouse Limited, an new versions are continuously being developed.

Nature as a fitness center – the NIKE approach

Monday, May 13th, 2013

NIKE has a reputation for not just producing shoes, but also building lifestyle. NIKE is part of the holiday experience for many, the holiday being a time not only for relaxing, but also for exercise in different environments. The NIKE+ Running app expands the features for the enthusiastic jogger, no matter whether at home or on holiday. With NIKE+ Running, nature environments may be used as a fitness center – just not so boring.










The idea of Nike+ Running is to map the running process and to ensure a motivation to keep going. The Nike+ Running app tracks distance, pace, time and calories burned with GPS, and it gives the user audio feedback every mile as he or she runs, like a personal coach.

It is easy to get demotivated when running. NIKE+ Running ensures a social recognition through Facebook and Paths. Whenever the user broadcasts that a run has started, there is a chance to get in-ear cheers from your friends. It is also possible to tag the particular Facebook running friends and share maps of routes. This facility requires wireless – and it is demanding in terms of battery.

The app helps the user to push the performance upwards. The tracking ensures a continuous feedback that allows the user to plan new forms and levels of exercise. There are badges to win for excellent performance.

To ensure a good experience, NIKE+ Running offers weather forecast. There are “power songs” to listen to in order to pump the speed and endurance.

Back home there is the user can read, analyze and share the performance data on the PC.

NIKE wants to sell more shoes, of course. The runner can insert the name of the running shoes in to see how many miles the shoes ran – and get an indication of time for replacement.

Video presentation of NIKE+ Running

Trails – a GPS-app for tracking outdoor adventures

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Self-tracking is a new trend in connection with outdoor activities, and a range of mobile applications are emerging for performance tracking and navigation. ”Trails” is one of them in a rapidly developing market.

The “Trails” allows the users to record their own tracks, when hiking, jogging, driving, or biking. There is a need for a signal to use the feature. The recoding takes place on maps that are loaded once, so that they can be seen later without internet connection. There is a recording of altitude, and the facility gives information about the current speed, distance and duration of the track.

It is possible for users export their tracks and import other people’s tracks. Hereby they can recall their past performance and ensure the recording of good outdoor adventures. And they can share their experience with others. Import tracks are found by searching on popular GPS websites such as and where it is possible to find hikes and jogs of other users. Likewise the Trails users can upload their trails for others to see directly.

It is also possible to view the recordings (live or later) on an OpenStreetMap that includes a lot of additional practical and touristic information such as hotels, ski lifts, ATMs. The system allows the user to switch between road and topographic maps.
The user of Trails can edit the tracks with a simple tap on the map where it is possible delete and label any recorded waypoint.

Trails allows integration with Flickr, and the user can tag photos to particular locations. It is available in more languages.

Felix Lamouroux developed Trails, which is under continuous improvement and expansion.

Video demonstration is available on Youtube.




A companion for star gazing

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Applications for mobile phones and tablets are increasingly replacing paper based information systems and guiding services in tourism. It is a market with a booming creativity, and each day new apps are introduced in order to address special interests for travelers.

Many of these apps address outdoor activities and interests, and they aim to increase the experience and the benefits while on tours and expeditions. Star watching and astronomy are key areas of interest for many who enjoy visiting dark locations and observatories.  Astronomy tours have grown into quite a busy travel niche in recent years.


New applications are emerging that assist star gazers to get the best possible delight. Star Walk for iPad or iPhone is one of them. It is an interactive astro guide to the night sky, following the user’s every movement in real-time and allowing him or her to explore over 200, 000 celestial bodies. It is supplied with information about stars and constellations that you find.
It is a quick process to get started. The user launches the app and points the iPhone or iPad at the night sky. Then it is possible to see the stars, planets, satellites, and constellations in their proper place from the specific location. As the device is moved around, the star map updates in real time. The Moon is the easiest first target. TelRad will help to find the exact position of an object when stargazing with a telescope.

There are several additional facilities, including extra information about each of the objects on the sky. A scale on right of the screen is the Time Machine, and it is possible slide it to explore the map of the night sky of tomorrow or years ago.  A calendar of celestial events will make sure that the user never misses anything interesting.

The app allows the users to share your experience on the mobile, and there is an entire stargazing twitter community within the app.  But it is also possible to project to a big screen with no picture quality loss and thereby creating a personal planetarium.

Further information abour astronomy and tourism: Fredrick M. Collison, Kevin Poe, “Astronomical Tourism”: The Astronomy and Dark Sky Program at Bryce Canyon National Park, Tourism Management Perspectives, Volume 7, July 2013, Pages 1-15


Bird watching app

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Applications for mobile phones and tablets are increasingly replacing paper based information systems and guiding services in tourism. It is a market with a booming creativity, and each day new apps are introduced in order to address special interests for travelers.








Many of these apps address outdoor activities and interests, and they aim to increase the experience and the benefits while on tours and expeditions. iBird is an App for bird watchers claimed to be among the best available on the market. Bird watching is a popular leisure pastime, and integrated in specialized tourism offers around the world.  iBird is practical in the sense that it  replaces heavy field guides with a portable database.

iBird offers a decision engine for identifying any bird species of North America. It is possible to search by color, shape, song, location, head and body patterns, flight style and much more. It includes a new way to search by color, tutorials on how to use the search and definitions of every attribute:

  • Parameter driven search engine makes it possible to dentify birds quickly, so that users spend more time observing and less time reading.
  • Search by shape, size, habitat, color, family, song, length, weight, flight pattern, wingspan, and much more.
  • Taxonomic and alphabetical family sort options.
  • Hand-drawn full sized color illustrations, with perching and flight views.
  • Professional photographs for each species showing sexes and seasons.
  • Range maps.
  • Bookmark birds as favorites for fast access.

An extended version of the app offers many hours of bird songs and calls from the gold standard of recordings; the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A spectrographic display brings insight to the structure of bird songs by allowing the user to view the sound’s frequency components.

There are also possibilities to upload own photos, and the facility automatically syncs favorites and notes to iCloud. Recognizing that nature areas are not well covered with mobile networks, iBird does not need a connection to the internet.

There are many birdwatching apps on the market, but iBird expands its facilities continuously. This is developed by the Mitch Waite Group.

A demonstration can be found on Youtube. The app is also available for Android.



Survival app for nature adventurists

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Applications for mobile phones and tablets are increasingly replacing paper based information systems and guiding services in tourism. It is a market with a flourishing creativity, and each day new apps are introduced.

Army Survival is an app for iPhone and iPad. The aim is to increase safety and experience for adventure tourists and travellers. It is inspired by methods used in the U.S. Army, who knows how to train their personnel to survive. This app provides an authoritative and complete reference guide on basic survival, evasion, first aid and recovery information, and the app is good example of how military practice can inspire and feed developments in civil life, including tourism.

Army Survival includes a whole range of information on the following topics:

* Psychology of survival
* Basic survival medicine
* Shelters
* Water procurement
* Edible and medicinal plants
* Poisonous plants
* Dangerous animals, snakes, lizards, fish, insects and arachnids
* Field weapons, tools and equipment
* Desert survival
* Tropical survival
* Cold weather survival
* Sea survival
* Direction finding
* Signaling techniques
* Predicting weather
* Ropes and Knots.

The app is not related to any specific location, but applicable mainly in temperate, tropical, arctic, or sub arctic regions. Outdoor enthusiasts may find themselves in a remote area— with little or no personal gear. This app provides information and describes basic techniques to enable adventure tourists to survive and return alive and healthy should they find themselves in such a situation.
The app is produced by Double Dog Studios. This enterprise has produced other outdoor apps.