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I used to do a lot of fairly extreme hiking, I'd pick a spot on the map I wanted to see or a mountain I had to get to the top of and take off into the bush for days at a time.
This got me to thinking about how handy it must be for hikers that have GPS maps of the area they are in, especially topographical
Then I thought why not combine GPS technology with a 3-D pin sculpture, [link] to create a hand held tactile map with real topography. This would let you look at the mountain you are climbing from all sides in real time. Pick an area on the general map and see an enlarged close up of a specific area. I have heard that it's possible to read a persons watch from a satellite so I would imagine that very detailed images of specific locations could be rendered in 3-D.
By making each push rod hollow with a fiber optic core, color coded highlights could accent things like waterways, rock formations and recent slides. Of course one pin would always be highlighted in red signifying your position relative to the terrain.
An added memory feature would allow you to mark locations, like where you left your vehicle, (coulda used this one a few times), or find locations in the deep bush accurately years later, (recently I asked fellow halfbakers for little help on a gold hunting expedition and ended up way, Way off course. Thanks for the help all, there's still gold in them thar hills I just knows it).
3-D pin sculpture.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]
Not so original.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]
||Topo 3-D is not tactile, but gives you as much information. <link>
||edit: If I were doing extreme hiking, I would want to travel as lightly as possible. To get usable topographical information you would need a great deal of pins (read as: weight). Try hiking into the Eagle Creek wilderness with an extra 8 pounds. I'll save my 8 pounds for food, water and raingear, thank-you.
||The push rods could be made from plastic and could even be telescopic for greater elevation changes so I don't think that weight will be a big factor, bulkiness may be a problem though.
||Telescoping push rods would take up more space each thus lowering the resolution, not to mention the drive mechanism for each telescoping rod. Cheaper/Easier/Lighter - Holographic LCD display, give you a 3D perception without moving parts.