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ROVE Where You Want To With New Geo-Gadget

ROVE_productWave_711x400Our roving reporter tracks down the latest item of must-own geocaching technology …

You’ll never be tied to your PC again if four Canadian inventors have their way. In fact, they hope you’ll rove long and far in search of geocaches with their new bluetooth-powered gadget.

The team at Sparkyard Inc say the ROVE was created for smartphone-owning “geocachers and trail creators to instantly share trail maps across social networks and put multiple geocaches right on a GPS” whilst out in the field.

ROVE_logoThe US$149 unit displays distance, speed, elevation and time “using ROVE’s unique map dashboard” and allows geocachers to add up to 25 Geocaching.com hides within a 50km radius to their GPS – “all with only one click”. Map data can also be transferred to Facebook and Twitter.

Until recently, these options were limited to smartphone cachers or the owners of top-end GPS units featuring internet capabilities. Now, using a smartphone and the ROVE, cheaper GPS models can provide the same service.

Sparkyard’s members, who all hail from Canada’s Nova Scotia province, hope ROVE will help promote greater use of handheld GPS receivers, especially among the fast-growing smartphone market.

“ROVE pulls multiple geocaches from Geocaching.com right to a GPS. Geocachers who use phone apps to find GC.com caches have had the ability to get multiple caches wherever there is WiFi or cellular service. Now geocachers who use a handheld GPS have this ability with ROVE. ROVE makes it easier for geocachers who prefer to find caches with their GPS.

“Three reasons we prefer to use a GPS for geocaching:

  1. Accuracy – GPS receivers tend to have more accurate location technology, giving you a geocaching advantage.
  2. Battery life – Generally, GPS receivers have a longer battery life than smartphones so you can have a GPS on for the entire time you are trekking. ROVE only needs to be on for 20 to 30 seconds to transfer multiple geocaches to your GPS or to send your trail maps to gorove.com.
  3. Ruggedness – GPS receivers are built for the outdoors just like ROVE. You can keep your smartphone safely in your backpack while your GPS and ROVE can be kept out for easy access.”

It’s been nearly two years since Sparkyard began developing the initial hardware and firmware for ROVE. So far, it has completed one “small” production run and the company is about to place its second order. “How many orders we get will determine whether we have another small run or a larger production run.”

The device was the brainchild of the team’s sole geocaching enthusiast and its case was inspired by the range of micro cache containers.

Spokesman Jonathan Layes (GC handle: Lost My Marbles) told It’s Not About The Numbers: “I love geocaching and sharing trail maps with friends but was frustrated with the process of having to spend so much time on the computer to upload trail maps and get geocaches on my GPS. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my kids finding caches and less time on the computer. I designed ROVE so that it is easy enough for a five-year-old to use.” GraphicHe believes their creation will most appeal to geocachers who like to use a GPS but want a quick way to upload multiple geocaches on to it. “We foresee that FTF geocachers could have an advantage. They would get a notification of a new cache in their area from Geocaching.com, plug in ROVE to instantly load that geocache on their GPS, then quickly find the new cache.”

Already, testing has proven the device is fully compatible with four models – Garmin’s eTrex, GPS and GPSMAP as well as Magellan’s eXplorist units featuring a mini-USB connector. They have publicly vowed to work with customers who own a mini-USB enabled Garmin until the ROVE functions correctly or they will give them their money back. “Our future plans are to test other brands like DeLorme and other units within Garmin and Magellan.”

jonathan

Jonathan Layes

Layes says ROVE has performed extremely well in field trials. “We have done rigorous testing to make sure that the battery life is behaving as intended and that data transfer is compressed to make transfer as quick as possible.”

Much of this testing was undertaken by friends and family members who geocache, though Sparkyard eventually hopes to sends ROVE “out to players around the world for review”.

“Although I’m the only geocacher in the bunch, there will be some geocaching converts shortly :). Even though we may not all be geocachers, we are all outdoor enthusiasts,” Layes adds.

janet

Janet Wilson

Team-mate Janet Wilson chimes in: “Although I’m still a muggle, I will be out geocaching with ROVE soon. It’s important for us to get feedback from inexperienced geocachers like myself as well as experienced geocachers. I’m an avid hiker and will be using ROVE to create trail maps of Nova Scotia and share them with everyone. In our area there are tons of trails that aren’t listed on the tourism sites. Tourists aren’t likely to ever get to see some of my favourite trails. Hopefully, ROVE will change this.”

Aside from its geocaching applications, the device gives GPS users an easy way to save and share GPS trail maps. Map data is stored on the groove.com servers and can be easily accessed through a web browser. In time, the company plans to add the ability to to export GPX data.

Last month, the Canadian foursome began raising funds for their venture on crowd-sourcing website Indiegogo, however they have since discontinued this appeal and plan to sell the device directly from their webstore. “We had hoped that Indiegogo would help us reach a broader audience but it hasn’t worked out that way. Regardless, we definitely appreciate our early Indiegogo contributors and we will be looking after them.

“It will just mean that we will have to continue with smaller production runs. We had wanted to keep our manufacturing in Canada but it may mean that we will have to reconsider where we have it manufactured so we can offer a different version at a lower price point.”

Right now, the group is preparing for its first shipment of ROVEs to go out next month. “There are only 200 available for the June shipment. If we get more demand, we will have more to send out in August.”

*To pre-order your own ROVE for US$149, visit Sparkyard Inc’s webstore.

 

2 comments

  1. Chris

    Interesting device. This is basically something I have wanted for a while, but…

    I wonder how the latest advancement, the move towards GPS devices that can hold millions of caches (a la the new Oregon 650), will affect the potential market. After all, if you can indiscriminately download all of the caches within a reasonable range of where you plan to be (or indeed, all of the caches in the world, if you want) then you probably won’t have much need for downloading caches around you on the fly.

  2. Ron

    The site doesn’t exist.

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