October 15, 2010

Garmin Chirp - Enhancing the Geocaching Experience

GarminChirp.jpg


Garmin has worked hard to innovate and bring a better experience to geocaching, from paperless geocaching where to download all of the details right to your handheld from your computer, to the new Chirp device, a small wireless unit that you can program with details, place in your cache and it can alert nearby geocache hunters on their wireless Garmin handhelds.GarminChirpMulti.jpg

I haven't confirmed this, but the Chirp must be running on the ANT+ wireless standard, which also runs their fitness sensors. In my experience, this typically has a range of 30 feet when unobstructed. This also means that you'll need a Garmin handheld that runs the ANT+ system like Dakotas, Oregons but sadly not the older wireless enabled Colorado units. In order to accommodate the Chirp technology and set-up you will need to update your unit via WebUpdater.

So the Chirp is waterproof to IPX-7 standards, and Garmin has a few tips that will make the Chirp perform well.

  • Do not mount the chirp inside a metal container. (Expected, but I love Ammo boxes as cache boxes)
  • Do not bury the chirp. (Shouldn't be burying a cache box anyway).
  • Do not put the chirp in water.
  • A compatible Garmin device should detect the chirp within 10 m. For maximum transmission range, allow the chirp to have an unobstructed view in all directions.
The Chirp runs on at CR2032 size battery, which is user replaceable.

Chirp Wireless Only Caches?

The Chirp is about the size of a quarter, has a battery life of about a year, can be programmed by the owner and is password protected. Costing about $23, the unit can be programmed to broadcast hints, or information about multi-caches. Check-in at the first Chirp-enabled multi-cache and receive your instructions for the next find wirelessly. I could see a day where the Chirp is hidden in a location that doesn't need to be "found" where you can come to the proximity of the Chirp, receive your instructions and move on to the next step of the multi-cache. Sorry, non-wireless cachers.

GPSFix has a nice review up on the Chirp that he published today. Looks fun and fairly straightforward to use.

Full Press Release below.......

Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN - News), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced chirp, a unique wireless beacon designed specifically for the outdoor adventures of geocaching. Affordable, durable and waterproof, chirp can communicate with, and be programmed by, any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld for a more interactive and enjoyable geocaching experience. Cache creators and seekers alike will enjoy the benefits as chirp stores hints, transmits multicache coordinates, counts visitors and confirms the cache is nearby.

"With chirp, geocachers have a new tool to enhance the joys of creating and finding caches around the globe," said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales. "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."

Geocaching is a high-tech version of hide-and-seek where participants of all ages explore the outdoors in search of hidden treasure and adventure, and chirp's wireless interactivity introduces a world of possibilities for creative caches. Experienced cachers will embrace the countless options now available in creating cutting-edge caches, and beginners will appreciate chirp's features that make those caches easier to find. Simple to use and password-protected, chirp can be programmed by any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld to store geocaching hints and other information. When other geocachers arrive near your cache, they'll be alerted that the cache is nearby, and then they'll be able to access the hints you've loaded into chirp. And when you return, chirp will tell you how many visitors have been to your cache.

With chirp, setting up and maintaining a multicache has never been easier. Using your compatible Garmin handheld device (such as Oregon, Dakota and the recently announced GPSMAP handhelds), chirp automatically transmits program coordinates so other cachers can find each stage of your multicache. Or if you're on a multicache, chirp lets you download coordinates. So there's no need to manually enter numerous sets of complex coordinates - there's just one simple touch and you're on your way to the next stage.

Designed and tested by geocachers, chirp is built to take the rigors of the outdoors. And because chirp is password-protected, the owner is the only one with programming powers. With a battery life of up to a year and a battery that's easy to replace, chirp is long-lasting and user-friendly. Measuring 1.3" by 0.9" (slightly bigger than a quarter) and weighing less than an ounce, chirp is small enough to incorporate easily into your favorite caches - whether they're already placed or still being planned.

The helpful hints provided by chirp are brought to life through paperless geocaching, which allows geocachers to help the environment and be more efficient by having cache information downloaded and displayed directly on the device. Compatible Garmin models store and display details such as location, terrain, difficulty, hints and description, so that you don't have to carry around printouts. Learn about geocaching, getting started and going paperless at www.garmin.com/geocaching.

Available now for a suggested retail price of $22.99, chirp represents the latest breakthrough from Garmin, which has spent more than 20 years developing technologies and innovations to enhance users' lives, making Garmin a household name in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. For more about features and product compatibility, as well as information about Garmin's other products and services, go to www.garmin.com, www.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/garmin.

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Posted by Scott Martin at October 15, 2010 8:50 AM

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