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October 15, 2010

Garmin chirp: Enhanced Geocaching Keeps the Environment in Mind

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor

Geocaching, the modern-day version of ‘Hide-and-go-Seek,’ has grown to become a well recognized outdoor sport today – with tons of hidden capsules or “caches” located all over the world.

The sport uses GPS and satellite to locate hidden caches at specific geographic coordinates.

In response to the growing popularity of the sport, satellite navigation provider Garmin (News - Alert) announced today “chirp,” a wireless beacon that company officials say is perfect for outdoor geocachers.

According to company officials, the chirp is not only durable and waterproof, but can be used for a more “enjoyable geocaching experience.”

Available now for a suggested retail price of $22.99, the gadget is compatible with any wireless-enabled Garmin handheld and has the ability to store hints, advise users when a cache is nearby, or display the number of visitors at the users cache.

“In listening to and participating in the vibrant geocaching community, Garmin created a one-of-a-kind device that builds on popular innovations such as paperless geocaching and downloading cache details directly to the device,” Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales said.

For security purposes, the beacon is password-protected so the owner is the only one who can program it. 

Improved wireless interactivity made possible with the device means both experienced and novice geocachers can more easily find and hide unique caches.

Also, the chirp automatically transmits program coordinates so there is no need to manually enter numerous sets of complex coordinates.

Paperless geocaching, which displays and stores cache info. right on the device, also helps save the environment by removing the need to carry around print outs. Garmin also urges sport participants to protect the environment while enjoying the sport.

TMC (News - Alert) spoke with Donald McKnight, an experienced Geocacher who said he spends as much as 20 hours a week, if the weather permits, participating in the sport.

"The introduction of this new wireless beacon will provide Geocachers a way to add a unique twist to their next cache," McKnight said.

“It's exciting to see new technology that’s dedicated to the game being sold.”

“Participants used to have to print all the information for each cache they wanted to go find or hide, but now with smartphones and dedicated devices like Garmin’s new 62 series GPS, its possible to have access to all the information electronically.”

Stefania Viscusi is an assignment editor for TMCnet, covering voice and Voice over IP technologies. She also oversees production of TMCnet's e-Newsletters in the areas of Internet telephony and speech technology. To read more of Stefania's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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