There are so many possibilities for the Pileus umbrella which has wireless internet, GPS and a Google Earth digital compass. The main one being, when will it do everything Inspector Gadget’s umbrella does. 2. If everyone is using the umbrellas, will it lessen incidences of skin cancer. 3. When will they build it into baseball caps. Other famous umbrella technologies that could be adapted are The Penguin, and the Avengers.
An interesting BBC article on the the first international forum for indigenous peoples highlights the use of gis to preserve indigenous rainforest or pygmy communities. The DLH group which created the specialized non-expert user software and ruggedized PDA’s for the project have an interesting article on the project. Data is captured when a user touches “a recognizable symbol on the specially configured touch-screen of the handheld computer, for instance, every time they encounter a sacred tree, a burial site or a special tree with many caterpillars which make up an important protein
substitute in their diet.The exact GPS position is then stored in the PDA to eventually produce a complete overview for the community of its resources. The community owns the intellectual rights to the maps completely and are put in charge of the mapping process themselves. This then allows them to enter into negotiations with CIB to secure their livelihoods.” The original project won a world bank award in 2005. What is also intereseting is that according to the New Agriculturist “These areas are all seemingly devoid of human habitation as the satellite imaging fails to register such low level human activity deep in the forest”
Michael Crichton wrote a book a called Prey about nanotechnology gone wrong – a swarm of nanobots that function as a hive and try to Borg the human race. Now British scientists have developed “Tiny “smart” devices that can be borne on the wind like dust particles could be carried in space probes to explore other planets” According to Dr John Barker, from the University of Glasgow, “the particles could use wireless networking to form swarms.” Cue ominous music, is that foreshadowing I hear? It’s a brilliant idea and combines everything I would want in a real life science fiction movie – space, technology, and the feeling you get when dreams (or books) become reality.
We usually think about tracking objects, more than we do about how they are actually tagged. This BBC picture documentary shows the process scientists went through to tag walruses for observation. The best quote is, “The tags were deployed with three instruments: a crossbow, a CO2-powered gun, and a harpoon that the skipper had made.” You can follow the tagged walrus migration through the “Walrus Watch” map and website, “showing the animals’ day-to-day progress during the two-month project”
This is a school trip no one is going to forget. Two bus loads of school kids ended up at an alleyway of the same name instead of a historic landmark because the bus driver had problems with their sat-nav. To compound the problem, “To make matters worse, the children were riding in two coaches not yet fitted with a tracking device allowing staff back at base to pinpoint their location and re-direct them” The bus company owner stressed that it wasn’t the technology that was the problem it was the quality of the content. A map is only as good as the information it contains, no matter how advanced technology gets.
MSN Lifestyle for Men has an interesting interview and picture of a “high tech rancher” who uses “A GPS unit feeds into Cox’s laptop, which uses GIS software to map the ranch’s 27,000 semi-arid acres and pinpoint the more than 100 pasture areas and water sources.” and “Digital hubs update Cox on weather and soil conditions. In development: a telemetry device to detect every bite taken by a cow as well as the type of plant being devoured.” A website for sustainable business has Green Dream Jobs which lists jobs like Urban Forestery. Of course, there is always the GIS jobs clearinghouse
More of a book mind map like you did in grade school, “Gnooks is a self-adapting community system based on the gnod engine. Discover new writers you will like, travel the map. of literature and discuss your favorite books and authors.” You can type in the name of an author and it will tell map out other authors that people read. There is also gnod music, movies, and a global network. The creator says that, “You might call it a search-engine to find things you don’t know about”. It’s like the ultimate form of browsing.
Some people don’t like scavenger hunts such as geocaching and the old fashioned clues and X marks the spot map because participants sometimes ignore common sense or courtesy. Some of the problems are caused by poor planning on the part of organizers. What was Cadbury Schweppes thinking when they organized a scavenger hunt that included one of the U.S.’s most historic cemeteries? Are people searching for a hidden coin that promises big money prizes going to stop mid-hunt to ponder the graves of John Hancock or Paul Revere? The Boston Parks commission closed the cemetery out of fear that graves would be desecrated. You would like to think that people would know that the coin wouldn’t be buried in a grave, which is probably what the company hired by Cadbury Schweppes was thinking.
Imagine being asked to form a discussion group with your friends to decide what life should be like in 2025? Okay, now imagine that with no Star Trek references. Science Horizons UK is a government group asking UK citizens to do that just and submit their information to the government. Its a year long project “to explore some of the ways that our minds and bodies, our homes and communities, our work and leisure time, and people and our planet could be affected by new science and technology in the future. We will be asking people to talk about the future with each other and tell us their hopes and concerns about the way science and technology could affect our lives.” It has an animated, interactive on-line component but it’s more of a structured dialogue than a free flowing brainstorming session. Also, all the stories sort of make me laugh, look up George and his jogging cap (GPS). It might end up telling people more about what their government thinks about them, then what they think about the future of technology. As an aside Earth:2025 is also an interactive webgame and Columbia’s Earth Center developed a map predicting the worlds population change in 2025.