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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I want an iPad, and a mini drone.


Wait, I already have one. An iPad mini with retina display, and I love it. Having grown up watching star trek it really is something out of Science Fiction. But when I say I want an iPad, what I really mean is an iPad for kayaking. 

On the Inside Passage we had several rolled charts that we folded up to use every day, we also had a spiral bound book of maps - topo maps - also in a chart case. Then we had GPS with maps loaded. If I did it today I would have the GPS preloaded with satellite imagery. We also had a guidebook, in a ziplock bag. 

In Prince William Sound, we had charts and another spiral bound book. We had a GPS but I didn't preload it with waypoints or maps - because I am very familiar with PWS. But a life using an iPad has spoiled me. In my previous two posts I have talked about the encroachment of technology where I don't want it, and the spread of easy communication when I don't need it. To prove that I am a complex person, this is where I would be okay with technology encroaching a little. 

I want a tablet that is highly water resistant - I am okay putting it in a case for both complete water protection and impact resistance. No bigger than a standard iPad, so I can use it easily in the cockpit, or perched on top of my spray skirt. It should be miserly with power usage so that I don't have to worry about charging it. Maybe it has solar on the back, so every time I turn it over it charges. But what I really want is digital, zoomable mapping like on an electronic chart table on a ship. There is nothing like having to remove a map from a chart case, and refold it - because you have paddled over the fold - in rain and high wind in the cockpit of a kayak. I want to scroll with my fingers and zoom as need be. I want both Nautical information (like a chart) and Topographical information (like a map) on display at all times. But I would also like to be able switch to satellite imagery quickly and easily. 

It should have sensors for Barometric pressure, and temperature, and keep me alerted to localized weather - like the Dark Sky app. 

On the inside passage, Sarah and I got forced off the water one day by high winds. We found a camp site, but as we were checking it out, it had a huge, fresh, bear print on it. So we were forced back out onto the water. We knew we had to go around a point of land but had no idea really what was on the other side. Here I would have liked a mini drone. I would like to pull something out of a pocket no bigger than my hand, unfold it, and throw it into the air like a frisbee. Once in the air it flies autonomously. Sending live video to my mapping tablet. I can control its path from the tablet as well. But this would give me the ability to look around corners to see what is there. Or view the coast for a couple of miles ahead to see if there is a good beach. 

This may sound unreal, but I think it is only a few years away. For under a thousand dollars I could buy a drone today for my GoPro. A little more money and I could have an image steadying gimbal on it as well. 

So while I am against the idea of communication encroaching on the wilderness world, there are areas that I think could use improvement. It is time for digital mapping to go from ships, to kayaks. You know kayak fisherman - the largest segment of the paddling world now - would love all these features. 

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