OpenCaching.com; Geocaching Website from Garmin
OpenCaching.com has opened as a Beta site, and is ready for customers. The site is now in competition with the landmark Geocaching.com site as well as independent "OpenCaching" sites from other countries that have been opening up.
A long time partner of Geocaching.com, Garmin is putting its muscle behind running its own OpenCaching.com site for reasons I can only speculate on. If I were the Garmin brand manager, I would want to more tightly integrate and promote existing aspects like Chirp functionality, and lay a solid groundwork for pending innovation. Working through Geocaching.com must not have been getting either the features promoted or the marketing message customized in a Garmin way enough so they decided to get into their own Geocaching business. The decision was certainly taken before the Chirp launch, and may have been born out of the failed WhereIGo game that never caught on in the geocaching community. Opencaching.com is a free service/site, while Geocaching.com has a lot of free services and features, but also offers a premium membership that brings additional features and a small incremental set of member-only caches.
The task at hand is not small; Geocaching has a decade head start, over a million caches world-wide, and 4-5 million cachers according to their website. Currently, there are hundreds of geocaches within 5 miles of my house on Geocaching.com, and the nearest geocache in OpenCaching.com is about 40 miles away. In retrospect however, that might be pretty good for being announced less than 24 hours ago. There is the ability to indicate that you own a set of caches and that you are cross listing them in OpenCaching; which is what several owners have done in my area.
OpenCaching has the ability to find caches near you, with a faceted search, allowing you to use sliders to rate the difficulty level, the terrain level the size of the cache and the "Awesomeness" of the cache. While a bit egotistical at first blush, this is a good addition in my mind; there are some caches that are awesome to visit and it should have its own rating. It appears that the owner can seed the awesomeness rating and then let those who found it tweak the ratings up or down depending on their point of view when they log their finds. Well done.
Hiding a geocache - You can offer to hide a geocache, plugging in information about the geocache in a simple user interface, with a prominent checkbox for it being "Chirp" enabled. It's clear that the legal team has been all over the site in a way a start-up wouldn't worry about with warnings and disclaimers at many turns. Not to fear, I would imagine that the 99.9% of people who don't read the 10-page end user license agreements and just blindly check "I Agree" will seek to skip the legal terms here too.
Logging your Finds - Of course, the big area for use here - allow you to leave notes, rate the cache on the difficulty, terrain, size and awesomeness scales.
Garmin seems to be gunning for a robust springtime readiness with OpenCaching.com - go check it out.
Full Press Release Follows......
OLATHE, Kan.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN - News), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced the creation of OpenCaching.com, a completely free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world. An exciting and engaging outdoor activity, geocaching combines exploration, education, entertainment and recreation. At OpenCaching.com, everyone can enjoy all of the caches and helpful information – the tips, descriptions, previous attempts, mass downloads, etc. – for free.
“Garmin is extending its reputation for ease of use even further into geocaching, creating the most intuitive experience possible,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “By making it free and easy to download every detail of every cache, Opencaching.com will introduce more people to this great activity and show them just how fun, easy and rewarding it can be. OpenCaching.com gives us a chance to go beyond the development of hardware and software and interact directly with the vibrant global community of cachers.”
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt where participants of all ages explore the outdoors, hiding and finding containers of various shapes and sizes that are filled with collectables, trinkets and logbooks for signing in and letting fellow cachers know you were there. Creating a cache consists of placing a container in a public area, saving the GPS coordinates and uploading them to a website. Finding a cache is as simple as searching the website and downloading those details to a GPS handheld. As free and open as the great outdoors, OpenCaching.com was created to help promote the growth of geocaching and build the worldwide community of cachers.
The Awesome Factor
Continuing Garmin’s role as an innovator within the geocaching community, OpenCaching.com gives creators and seekers alike a way to quantify the “Awesomeness” of any given cache. While every cache has its enjoyable elements that make it unique, everyone has personal favorites that defy traditional descriptions. For that reason, OpenCaching.com lets users rank the Awesomeness in addition to size, terrain and difficulty. These four factors are displayed in a “bulls-eye” illustration for each cache, giving geocachers a unique and vivid idea of the fun that lies ahead. And cachers themselves can rate these factors, turning the bulls-eye illustration into a true representation of peer reviews.
Open to everyone
The strength of OpenCaching.com lies within the geocaching community, from diehard cachers to families and classrooms trying it for the first time (for which there is an informative how-to guide included on the site). Everyone – regardless of experience or numbers of caches found or placed – is welcome to the same information and invited to get as involved as they want. OpenCaching.com will work with any device or software package that can read GPX files, regardless of manufacturer.
“Because OpenCaching is brand new, we’re counting on cachers everywhere to get creative and get involved,” said Bartel. “We want everyone who posts, seeks and finds a cache to have the pride of ownership in this new site, and there’s no better way than to build it together. As the word gets out about OpenCaching, we expect the number of caches posted to grow quickly.”
Through the recent announcements of OpenCaching.com and the chirp™ wireless geocaching beacon, geocachers around the world now have exciting new tools to unleash the potential of their creativity. Garmin is just one of countless businesses – large and small, corporate and self-owned – that make up the interdependent geocaching ecosystem. From collectables to events to software such as mobile, web-based and desktop applications, these creative collaborations stimulate ideas and enthusiasm. Garmin’s goal is to provide even more support and opportunities to the various innovators involved in this global activity.
For cachers who have created or found caches elsewhere, Garmin designed OpenCaching’s cache code system to seamlessly coexist and integrate with other databases, devices and applications. Also, developers can access the OpenCaching.com database through an API, and cache owners can share their information on other sites through the Creative Commons license. Cachers can quickly get credit for cross-listed caches found on other sites and easily add existing caches they own to OpenCaching.com, where they can also be tagged and enhanced with more helpful information.
A legacy of innovation
Since geocaching first began, Garmin has embraced the role of innovator and leader. Garmin was the first company to offer open and closed treasure chest icons on the screen of the device. Garmin devices featured the first dedicated application with the “Geocaching compass,” and the direct “Send to GPS” function started with Garmin. In considering the environment – and ease of use – the industry leader introduced paperless geocaching for increased efficiency and decreased waste as users could see descriptions and helpful hints right on the screen of the device instead of relying on numerous printouts for each cache.
Garmin’s recently announced chirp wireless beacon is the latest breakthrough in 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.
Garmin has spent more than 20 years developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ lives, becoming a household name in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. For more about Garmin’s 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 December 8, 2010 8:34 AM