Sunday, March 18, 2012

New GPS App Shows Geological Points of Interest Along Route


Geology is one of those sciences that either you love it, or you don’t. Most people who aren’t geology nerds haven’t really studied it much past a high school science class or, at best, a 101 gen ed course in college. I know that I certainly haven’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that geology is a rather fascinating subject. I like it so much in fact, that I always try and include a geology section on the weekly news roundup here at GPS Tracklog.

So, for anyone who is like me and has the habit of peering out the window on a flight or road trip and wondering, the app Flyover Country is going to become your new best friend. This app, created by the University of Minnesota Department of Earth Sciences and funded by the National Science Foundation, allows users to download a track and then use GPS to learn about interesting geological and fossil sites on a hike, road trip, or even flight.

flyover-countryThe app is designed to work entirely offline and allows users to input their destination, download the information along the flight path, and then enjoy learning while traveling. The app integrates offline base maps, GPS location, altitude, speed, and heading to provide information on rich interactive geologic maps featuring fossil locations and Wikipedia articles (available offline) for anyone interested in deeper information.

As the name implies, Flyover Country was designed for use on a flight, where GPS is often allowed, although the app description and reviews warn that you have to be in a window seat for best results (and let’s be honest… the window seat is better anyway). However, since the app received such attention it has since been updated to include richer road trip information and even could be used for hiking and similar activities.

While I haven’t tried this on a flight yet, the roadtrip functionality is pretty cool. I have seen some reviews on the app stores complaining about bugs, but that’s pretty par for the course. Personally, I didn’t have any problems with using it and I have to say that it made my trip down to my parents house far more exciting than normal. This app is definitely one of my new favorites, and without a doubt one of the cooler uses of GPS technology I’ve seen this year.

If you want to try it out for yourself, Flyover Country is free to download and is available on Google Play and the App Store. For more information on the app itself, or development, check the project website.

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