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What's That Hill?

Identify distant peaks
  (+20, -2)(+20, -2)
(+20, -2)
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I was recently on holiday in Ireland, in a mountainous region of Co. Kerry. As I gazed about, awestruck by the craggy vistas, I was struck by the difficulty of identifying distant mountains and slopes, despite having numerous OS maps of the region.

How useful, I thought, would be a bit of software for a laptop (or even a handheld) to assist in this endeavour. You would type in your position as a grid reference (or get it straight from GPS), and the rough direction you were looking, and the soft would, by consulting its onboard contour map, generate a view of the skyline visible from that location. Click or tap on a peak on the skyline, and you get a the gridref of what you have tapped. A laptop version could even display the skyline and plan map side by side, and indicate on the plan the point clicked on the skyline.

Mickey the Fish, Aug 15 2000

Hounds of Love http://www.amazon.c...026-3121374-9746018
Great Kate Bush album, with the song "Running up that hill". Go and buy it now. Go and buy "The Kick Inside" too. [hippo, Aug 15 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Touch http://www.amazon.c...026-3121374-9746018
Not the Eurythmics' finest album (that would be "Savage"), but it does have "Who's that girl?" on it. If you don't want to buy every single Eurythmics album, you could buy their "Greatest Hits" which also has "Who's that girl?".. [hippo, Aug 15 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

For Bear: Steve Mann's WearComp http://www.wearcam.org/
I saw him at a lecture at McMaster University in April...he was more interested in using his "virtual light" computer goggles to censor out advertisements from the human eye (now THAT is half-baked). [quanta, Aug 15 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Digital Dingo http://www.core77.c...tal_dingo/main.html
Dead-on design contest entry. The bottommost screenshot looks about right. [jutta, Aug 15 2000]

(??) "Walking" maps for PDAs http://www.mapopolis.com/
And they're free! [mwburden, Jan 11 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Aerial View HUD http://www.halfbake...Aerial_20View_20HUD
related idea for use on airliners [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

(??) trying to find the location of Bin laden http://www.islamonl...1/12/article4.shtml
[po, Oct 24 2004]


       Nice idea.
The TV commercial for this would of course use the tune from The Eurythmics' "Who's That Girl?", but with "What's That Hill?" lyrics.
hippo, Aug 15 2000

       or even Madonna's song...
ember, Aug 15 2000

       or the (better) Eurythmics song... :-)
hippo, Aug 15 2000

       Pink Floyd for me.
Scott_D, Aug 15 2000

       Harumph.... I feel it is a little early to start planning the advertising strategy for the device. I was rather hoping for some meaty discussion on spherical trigonometry, map projections, digital cartography formats etc.   

       For what it's worth, I prefer the Eurythmics song, but Madonna's would probably be better in an advert (as would most of her output). I am not familiar with the Pink Floyd version (ie it must be post Animals).
Mickey the Fish, Aug 15 2000, last modified Aug 16 2000

       Heh. You're silly, Mickey. While we are a generally smart lot, most of us (with some notable exceptions) aren't that educated.   

       My addition to this discussion would be a vague promise to research a similar concept explored by (who else?) Steve Mann, cyborg-at-large. One of the things I know he was working on was a wearable computer that "knew" - from map data, GPS, and orientation - what the wearer was looking at and would supply useful information when prompted. [if anyone actually has an idea where among Mr. Mann's paper and websites this info lurks please don't hesitate to add it. This is all based on a vague recollection and I haven't the faintest idea where to start.]
bear, Aug 15 2000

       This is eminently bake-able. I'm not sure how useful it would be, but...   

       You can get GPS attachments for programmable handhelds, and low-resolution DEM (Digital Elevation Map) data and satellite photos are freely available with global coverage. Terrain plotting software is also generally available; I think the open-source "Flight Gear" flight simulator can accept DEM data, for example.
egnor, Aug 15 2000

       Great idea Mickey! A slight variation on your idea - "Where's that Hill" - a system for determining the location of Jimmy Hill.
ccaamgw, Aug 15 2000

       "Be runnin' up that road, be runnin' up that hill, be runnin' up that building..."   

       And it's by Kate Bush- someone else who's more fun than Madonna and as enjoyable the Eurythmics, IMHO.
BigThor, Aug 17 2000

       Saying that someone is "more fun than Madonna" isn't much of a compliment! Kate Bush is amazing.

Anyway, back to MtF's original idea - I seem to remember seeing somewhere that a large amount of the world has in fact been mapped like this in 3D as part of a system for aeroplane navigation - essentially, to stop aeroplanes from flying into mountains. I think it was GPS based, so the idea might be feasible now that someone has done the difficult and expensive bits.
hippo, Aug 18 2000

       I would personally simplify this idea to a simple virtual light visor, with a GPS and electronic compass. The system will note what direction the user is facing, find out where they are, and simply superimpose titles and information from a local (Internet?) geographic database on top of the user's view of the mountains. This could work for inside the city, maybe even better. You could stare at the CN Tower, and the visor will show an arrow, with the caption "CN Tower, Front Street. Press "I" for info" or something.   

       Update: Okay, egnor is right, a visor is kinda tricky to build, but it simplifies the concept. You see, you wouldn't have to generate 3D landscapes, you just have the visor superimpose text/map data.
quanta, Aug 26 2000, last modified Sep 09 2000

       That's a "simplification"? A "virtual light visor" is "simpler" than a laptop computer? Maybe it's conceptually simpler, but the beauty of this idea as originally stated is that it's eminently bakeable today.   

       The problem with urban landscapes is that (unlike real mountains) there are no good 3-D maps that you could use to predict what's visible where. It's easy enough to get the 2-D coordinates of the CN Tower, but it's hard to get the 3-D shape of it and all the other buildings around you ...
egnor, Aug 27 2000

       'Somehow'? Binocs have had built in compasses for years. Some of them electronic. It shouldn't be a problem...   

       Laser rangefinders, too.
StarChaser, Dec 09 2000

       The Army binoculars you're describing sound pretty trivial, and not much like what's being described here. Notably, they don't need a built-in terrain map.   

       I bet it's an optical rangefinder. I can't imagine it uses sonar.
egnor, Dec 09 2000

       Yes, the very fact that they are binoculars implies the possibility of using binocular vision range finding.   

       But, ravenswood, you missed out the most important feature of the army bins:   

       5) `Destroy' button, which signals a nearby artillery detachment, 'Bombs 'R' Us' armoury ship or hovering angel of death with the coordinates of the target, instructions to destroy, and credit card number to pay for the service.   

       Still not much like my original idea.
Mickey the Fish, Jan 25 2001

       So we're going to download landmark information from the internet onto a laptop / handheld? Excellent. I shall look forward next time I'm out and about to knowing that I'm looking at Mt. 4004 Proxy Error, whilst standing at the shores of the beautiful Lake Netscape could not connect with the server... (etc.)   

       ...mumble mumble... flippin' 33K internet connection ... mumble mumble ... when are BT going to get ADSL working properly ... mumble mumble ... write to my MP ... mumble ...
mark_t, Jan 25 2001

       I'm for the GPS image overlay binoculars but...   

       ...a palmtop walking map could be a good stepping stone. Upload the area you're walking in. Tap to screen to select where you are (or input GPS co-ords) and get 3D view generated from map data overlaid with a texture map of the map image. Cool.
st3f, May 02 2001

       Bakeable, and there is probably a market for it. However, the market is infantesamle.   

       Two two largest markets, airplanes and military, they are already available for in some way shape or form.   

       The market for people climbing mountains that want to know the name of them is not so great. Cities would be much more interesting but as egnor pointed out although they have topographical data, once you get into a city it get's more difficult.   

       A related idea would involve the "visor" your info but mapped to a city -- and then a type of Vindigo functionality where you can look at a restraunt and get a review for it. :)   

       Hmm.. actually there was that article in Wired about a company that had mapped all of the buildings (in 3d, with elevation) in New York... so you could at least work with that and create something for the NY market... but hmm, what is it people would pay a lot of money to be able to look at a picture of their fair city and see it annotated?
nhyatt, Jan 11 2002

       i prefer the eurythmics also, but madonna is still ok with me.
benfrost, Jan 12 2002

       A different perspective with cheaper technology.   

       You take a digital picture of the scene with your PALM. The skyline is digitized (the shape of it). The GPS is used to calculate position and direction. The program with the 3D contour levels then places the heights of each of the peaks on the digital photograph. As most maps use the heights of the mountains as a reference, you can then figure out what mountain you are looking at.
DRudge, Dec 05 2002

       Slight correction [hippo]: 'Touch' is in fact the masterpiece of their career. Ask me - I know :-)
wagster, Oct 24 2004

       see the people chasing each other around on that rise over there? that is benny hill
benfrost, Oct 24 2004

       I've wanted this for years, but more for "what's that antenna tower?" usage. I tend to notice towers as I drive around, and I always find myself wondering.   

       I've actually done this: Record my location and estimate the bearing to a distant tower. Move some distance and do it again. Come home, plot both locations and bearings in mapping software, and look at where the projected lines cross. Take the lat/long of the intersection and punch it into the FCC's "antenna structure registration" database, asking for all towers within a certain radius of the point.   

       It usually finds a couple towers, and I can plot those on a map and consider their heights to figure out which one is the one I was seeking.   

       The "virtual horizon view" would make it much, much simpler. I love that idea and hope someone pursues this. :)
Myself, Jul 26 2009

       Seems to me there was something like this in the first (fourth?) "Star Wars" back in '77. Anyone remember?
csea, Jul 26 2009


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