Hikers are using more and more technology
Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org
See all hikertypes drawings here
The newest generation of augmented reality glasses are being presented this autumn, they are basically connected interactive glasses, that you can wear and where you will get a layer of tailor-made information shown on the glass, right in front of your eyes, between you and the landscapes. And with them you will get brand new fancy options to navigate in and out of both this layer and take virtual tours through the landscapes in front of you, as a new kind of multi layered hiking experience
So say you are out hiking, wearing digital glasses, then you can get all kind of information about what you see, where you are, the conditions of the trail further on and latest weather forecast, all written live on the glass.
Keeping updated on all connections and realities
But that is just for a starter, you can also video chat with your virtual or far away human guide. You can also see how your friends are doing, and their GPS positions, both on and off trail. You can navigate to see their latest Facebook updates, tweets and Instagram uploads – and also, at the same time… as you head up a small path by a creek all alone in the early morning, you can be present at a virtual online meeting in the afternoon, in a different timezone, coordinating meetings with a design team in Rio and / or a production facility management team in Beijing…
Digital body-monitoring systems
Because your gadgets are monitoring your body and nutrition-needs non-stop, you will be warned (on your augmented reality glasses or by a sweet, but slightly authoritative woman voice in your ear) about if the systems will monitor risk of rising dehydration, too high a pulse or too low glucose level in your blood.
With a couple of blink with your right eye or an “OK”, you can follow the advice and let the system re-adjust the nutrition mix, while you suck harder on your backpack mounted water-hose
Hell or paradise?
I can’t really make up if that sounds like paradise or hell… guess it depends on what type of hiking-freak you are and how long the batteries will last… and how heavy they are… But one thing is sure, it is just a few of the new options, that the gadget hiker can dive into tomorrow.
The new gadget powered hiker
I have made a short list here with some of the new hiking-gadget-gear, that companies tell hikers should be on their “need to have” essential gear list, for a good digital supported trail experience.
Here is a few of the digital gadget options finding their way into backpacks all over the world:
- Tablet or Ipad, smart handy and light device, with a huge screen, cameras and GPS, you can do a lot of things on it, powered by Android or Apple or maybe some day Windows or Ubuntu. Connected to the rest of the gear and the cloud.
- GPS tracker, with digital maps and wayfinding features. More weatherproof than the smartphone/ipad gadgets, and it last a lot longer on the batteries.
- Smartphone Do about everything the Ipad/tablet do, but just with a smaller screen – and then with the option of making calls (if mobile network is available) . Connected to the rest of the gear and the cloud
- Time-lapse and wide angle camera taking a picture every 10-15-30 seconds, to document the path you are on. wi-fi connected to the rest of the gear and the cloud. Many use the Hero camera from Gopro.com
- Solar panels, You need those, as you will be streaming, sending, uploading, updating, and beaming all kind of digital signals non stop, and that takes a lot of power. Solar-panels for hiking is a growing business and Brunton.com makes a lot of them.
- Augmented reality glasses – could be Microsoft Hololens, Google glass or Sony, Epson or Oakley, everybody is trying to get to you first… Connected to the rest of your gear and the cloud.
- Microphone – just for backup, and of course for when you are running live through a thunderstorm, and it will be too hard for the rest of your gadgets to hear you clearly and make the right surround sound mix for the streaming without it.
- Satellite rescue “take me home” emergency gadget, mostly for safety, so the helicopter can find you anywhere on Earth. But also work to document the trail for thru-hikers. The SPOT GPS tracking unit is one of the options.
- Smart watch, the next generation of the tough outdoor watch, where you can still do all the things a good classic outdoor watch will do, (time, weather, altitude, temperature, digital compass, solar powered… ) but it is connected too, so it will communicate with your other gadgets and you can do things on it like read your text and chat messages, while swimming in a river, should you ever need it.
- Full frame Camera, the heavy, pro camera that gives you the National Geographic potential photos and video, in way more than Full HD. A lot of people seems to use Canon, Nikon or Sony cameras. You will be ripped of for 5000-10.000USD to get it. But you will get big nods of acceptance from the other gadget freaks, when you wear it.
- Shoe and hand bands gadgets, different sensors, GPS monitors etc. that will keep track of every step or movement you make. Several of the shoe-projects even generates electrical power for the gadgets, when you walk, as the boots have small generators in them. Here is an example
- Intelligent clothing it is not quite here yet, but both outdoor companies and military research try to create clothe that will mimic the surroundings in best chameleon / Harry potter invisible cloak style. The fabrics might be using nano-technology, holographic filters and weaved screens… or who knows, to show images in real time and open for perspiration, shut for rain, power your gadgets in sunshine, and also flash up to show others if you are grumpy in the morning… or lost in the mist.
With all those expensive gadgets on you, invisibility will be a good thing
Of all the cloth things they are working on I think the camouflage idea might be one of the best, as hikers will be walking around with over 10.000 USD of fancy gadgets on them, looking like a Christmas gift for any thief or hungry mountain bandit. So being invisible would deffinantly be the appropriate dress-code for the new gadget hiker