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The future is here

Running with your mobile in your hand, seeing the map and even exact GPS-positioning on the screen - who thought about such futuristic things just a couple of years ago? Now it's all reallity. But what will be the next step?

The PC-guru and WorldOfO founder Jan Kocbach from Bergen, Norway, presented his newest research project lately - Orienteering maps on GPS receivers. Using his innovative methods and software, now it's easy to import an orienteering map on your GPS, and even your cell phone, then just turn it on and get out for a run.

But what is orienteering with help of the Global Positioning System? Well, it's almost the same as normally, but you see your current position: "A red dot shows your current position – being updated at regular intervals" explains Kocbach on his website.

The project is dedicated on making O-maps, and the whole sport more popular : the local clubs in Bergen are even using the technology in their recruit work - in 2009, most of the youngsters who get introdused into our sport are interested in computers and new technologies, and using GPS to learn understanding the map is an interesting approach.

GPS is another new technology introdused in the orienteering. After the big boom with electronic punching systems and heart rate monitors in the 90's, GPS-watches are gaining popularity among orienteers on all levels. Most of the today's elite runners are using GPS watches for replaying their routechoises and analysing their performances. IOF even came with rule about using of GPS watches. But being able to see your exact position on the map makes things even more different.

The next question is how will GPS technologies influense the normal orienteering? Will the GPS orienteering gain more and more popularity? Will more people start using O-maps on their phones when they take the Sunday mountain trip with their families?

Or will we get "GPS-O" as a discipline even in WOC, when you stay on the start line, and instead of cleaning your SportIdent you just plug a USB cable to your receiver? One thing is sure - the next couple of years will be interesting for all the O-geeks.

What do you think about it? Is it yet another cool inovation, or just cheating? How do you plan to use the new technology? Post a comment.

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Read Jan Kocbach's brilliant tutorials:
Part 1: O-maps on Garmin GPS
Part 2: O-maps on Garmin using QuickRoute
Part 3: O-maps on mobile phones