More outdoor gear tech from CES 2012

To quickly summarize, 2012 will be the year we share the outdoor experience. I even saw a bathroom scale that will wirelessly share your weight with its included app. “Siri, am I fat?”

GoBandit LIVE action camera
GoPro is by no means the only wearable action camera on the market. Well, it never really was the only wearable action cam but it’s certainly the most prevalent. (Hats, er, helmets off to their marketing department.) The GoBandit cam offers a live link to your smartphone in full 1080 HD and has an embedded GPS to allow for live measurements of your speed, route and altitude. It’s a very cool looking camera and comes with a couple of mounts. Of course, you can upload and share your ride/wave/climb/jump/fall/spill/yard sale data. If you visit this site before 2/25, you can register for an early adopter discount, which you’ll want to do because they guy I talked to used numbers that were not real appealing, which reminded me of the stellar job the GoPro marketing department is doing.

UWater Action Gear by Fitness Technologies, Inc.
So I guess these guys have been around a while; where, I don’t know. Underwater I suppose, because that’s their primary focus: 100% waterproof electronics. They market a lot of slick, scuba-ready accessories, like flashlights, an FM radio, MP3 player with Bluetooth headset and dive lights. I really like the UWater Full HD Action Cam. (This is in part because I don’t scuba dive and thus, have no real interest in soundtracking Delbert McClinton to a reef dive.) UWater’s action cam looks like a bullet. It’s small, easy to mount and feels quite solid, as if it could actually take the abuse these in-action cameras are often subject to. It will accept a Micro SD card of any capacity and also has a patent-pending battery extension that will provide up to 8 hours of run time. It adds about another two-inches or so to the camera. I think this is a very cool product.

iBike Dash
The only road biking I do is on a single speed over to Fresh & Easy or to the gym, so I don’t have a lot of need for an iPhone- (or iPod touch) connected bike computer. But that doesn’t mean that the iBike Dash isn’t slick as hell. So you download the app to either device and then insert it into the iBike “smart case,” which then attaches to your ride. From what I saw, the app is really comprehensive and has a very attractive touch screen interface. You can monitor speed and distance over a live GPS map, get averages, time and also take calls while the Dash continues to record your data. That’s cool. And it’s water tight. You can get either the iBike Coach App for training purposes or the standard iBike App for general riding and fitness.

AfterShokz headphones
I’m not a fan of headphones in the outdoors. I see them used a lot though, in mountain biking and snowboarding, especially. For me, it’s a safety issue. I don’t run with them because I feel music is a distraction, it doesn’t allow you to listen to your breathing, focus on your pace or stay mentally balanced. Yeah, I’m kind of a tool that way. I apologize for the digression; point is, a lot of people like to listen to music in their outdoor pursuits. If I had to, I would use these AfterShokz headphones because they do not “go in, on or cover your ears.” Powered by what the parent company, VoxTech, calls bone conduction technology, which has something to do with military special ops and bypassing the ear canal by sending the soundwaves through adjacent bones. What I like about this concept is that it allows you hear what’s going on around you in the outdoors, which is ideal for safety along the slopes, trails and suburban sidewalks. It also protects the eardrum. Hell, I may have just convinced myself to pick up a set. They also have AfterShokz Game for, yes, gamers, and AfterShokz Mobile for cell phones, each with an in-line mic. The sport version is $59.99 and the other two are $69.99. Nice.



Fotopedia apps the National Parks

Fotopedia's National Park photography app

Quang-Tuan Luong is featured in this sweet photography app

Take a break from the Angry Birds marathon for a second and download more than 3,000 stunning national park images from photographer Quang-Tuan Luong. Beyond the terrain that’s been captured in each image, you get map data, national park links and image captions. I don’t know a ton about Luong, or anything really. But that doesn’t matter. I know the guy is damn good at capturing some the coolest places on earth. And that $4.99 for this many hard-to-describe-in-a-blog-post photos is worth every vista.

Your GPS doesn’t know everything. Trust in it accordingly.

Map of incidents in Death Valley

Image from The Sacramento Bee, TOM KNUDSON/

I have a large atlas under the seat of my truck. It sees a lot of use because I don’t own a GPS. I have to find the need for one, actually. Between Web-based maps, the wonderful folks at AAA and a bit of common sense, I feel confident in my ability to find just about any place I want to go.

I have a buddy who swears by his GPS, especially when it comes to timing his arrivals. The text will read: “Be there at 1:47.”  That’s cool I guess. But hey, isn’t that why we measure automobile travel in miles per hour? Thus, in that context, his GPS is nothing more than a directionally-savvy calculator.


In yet another example of how the underlying spirit of getting away from it all doesn’t overlap too smoothly with the use of technology, rangers and national park officials, in whatever spare moments they have, are trying to work with GPS device manufacturers to ensure that desolate and dangerous roads don’t end in the lexicon of their products. Turns out, people put more faith in the voice of their windshield mounted map maker than they do the ones in their heads. It’s even reached the point where rangers have created the informal explanation of “Death by GPS.”

Is anyone surprised?

The Sacromento Bee pointed out that the problems are becoming much worse than just ending up in the wrong part of town. It’s more like ending up at the bottom of a ravine, bleeding, alone and being scorched to death by the heat of a thousand suns.

Love your iPhone. Just don’t love it too much.