Back in January I was planning logistics for a winter Presidential Traverse of several peaks including Mount Washington. The biggest concern, as always the case to the “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”, is weather and visibility. I was thinking about the limitations of GPS (which I don’t use) and a compass (which I carry religiously) when a light bulb went off for an iPhone application I’d love to have – an augmented reality map of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The goal being a combination of a compass, a GPS, and visibility regardless of weather conditions. (I’m going to ignore battery life at sub-freezing temperatures.)
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was, of course, a required partner since their database of mapping throughout New England is top notch. I presented the idea to a few of their staff but the concept is simple: utilize cellular GPS technology and augmented reality to make a “virtual” binocular overlapped with mapping data. The end result is a wealth of information available anywhere and anytime.
Last week, however, a similar product was released for the iPhone – the “Peakfinder Alps” application [for $1.99]. While it only has coverage throughout Europe, the concept and product is similar to what I imagined. Here is a screenshot of the product, as viewed from the summit of one mountain:
For a New England / AMC based application there are several features I’d love to see;
- Proceeds going to the AMC (a non-profit) and/or an easy way to make donations via your mobile phone.
- Heads up display (HUD) of distance to the next junction, important landmarks, summit, and friends locations (i.e. “Matt Solar is X meters behind you on Hellbrooke Trail and traveling at a pace of 2mph”.
- Summit view finder overlapped with distant peak information (i.e. names, distance, height)
- Heads up weather information and alerts – HUD weather would be pretty cool if you could tilt your phone toward weather clouds to get their incoming speed, estimated precipitation likelihood, and temperature.
While I think it will be a while before we see all of these features incorporated into an application it’s still fun to think about the merging of two of my favorite items; technology and the outdoors.
For more information about the “Peakfinder Alps” application, please visit the Apple Store website here.
5/19/10 Update: The American Hiking Society has released a trail-based iPhone application. According to TheGearCaster.com, “priced at just $9.99, the application gives you free access to over 300 recreational trail map bundles with a portion of the proceeds going to support hiking advocacy, volunteer programs and outreach to communities.” While it doesn’t provide any new features (it’s basically another distance logger) it is a step in the right direction – bringing the outdoors to the iPhone.