GPS tracking has a number of well-known practical applications, but today it’s also the means of an entertaining pastime enjoyed by millions. Players use their GPS devices to participate in a global treasure hunt known as geocaching.
In May 2000, President Bill Clinton ordered the discontinuation of selective availability, a security feature that made civil and commercial use of GPS less responsive. An enterprising GPS enthusiast named Dave Ulmer decided to have some fun testing the upgraded accuracy. After hiding a container in a wooded area near Portland, OR, he posted the coordinates on an Internet GPS users’ group with a challenge to find it.
There were only two rules: discovery had to be made solely through the use of a GPS device and if you took anything from the container, you had to replace it with something of equal or greater value. Ulmer’s original container held videos, books, software and a slingshot.
After two different people found the container and shared their experiences online, fascinated readers began following Ulmer’s lead and hiding their own stashes. The term “geocaching” was coined with the prefix indicating the game’s global reach. “Cache” has a double meaning, referring to both the French word for “hiding place” and the computer term, a nod to the high-tech nature of the activity.
During the early days, geocaching was limited to experienced GPS users. It gained a whole new level of accessibility thanks to Seattle web developer Jeremy Irish. He founded GeoCaching.com and instituted the use of tools such as a standardized database that made the game easier for novices. Couples and families now enjoy geocaching as an exciting group activity.
After all this time, the rules and equipment for geocaching remain the same. Geocaching.com is the primary online forum for the community, maintaining an extensive database of caches ranked by type, size and difficulty. Site membership is free and members document their finds and share their experiences with other enthusiasts.
Geocaching is the latest example of how technology can help to build a global community. Participants learn about different areas of our country and the world while becoming connected to other users by sharing the caches’ “treasures”.
If you are looking for ways to bring smart technology into your business to control assets, increase productivity, or to track mobile staff considering GPS tracking may be the perfect solution for you. You may just uncover a “cached treasure” of profitability with the implementation of this unique technology.