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Garmin Chirp tracking chip changes geocaching forever

GPS is typically used to avoid getting lost, but there’s a group of very enthusiastic group of people who enjoy “looking for treasure in Tupperware,” aka, geocaching. Targetting these crazy weekenders is Garmin with a new chip called the Chirp. It may look like a rather nondescript piece of black plastic, but it’s got some navigational technology inside. The idea is that a geocacher can hide the Chirp somewhere in the middle of nowhere, activating it for other geocachers to find. The battery on the Chirp lasts up to a year and it serves as a wireless beacon for those who want to participate.

The Chirp “can communicate with… any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld for a more interactive and enjoyable geocaching experience.” It stores hints, transmits multicache coordinates, counts visitors, and confirms the cache is nearby. When the owner of the pet rock Chirp comes back to retrieve it, he or she can then reprogram it for the next high-tech hide-and-seek adventure.

At $23, the Chirp isn’t a huge loss if someone decides to swipe it rather than maintain the integrity of the cache. Even then, since it’s password protected, you can probably track down the thief and ask for it back, making an entirely new game out of geocaching; finding the Chirp thief.

Garmin® chirp™ Brings Geocachers Even More Creativity, Connectivity

OLATHE, Kan./October 15, 2010/Business Wire – Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced chirp, a unique wireless beacon designed specifically for the outdoor adventures of geocaching. Affordable, durable and waterproof, chirp can communicate with, and be programmed by, any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld for a more interactive and enjoyable geocaching experience. Cache creators and seekers alike will enjoy the benefits as chirp stores hints, transmits multicache coordinates, counts visitors and confirms the cache is nearby.

“With chirp, geocachers have a new tool to enhance the joys of creating and finding caches around the globe,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “In listening to and participating in the vibrant geocaching community, Garmin created a one-of-a-kind device that builds on popular innovations such as paperless geocaching and downloading cache details directly to the device.”

Geocaching is a high-tech version of hide-and-seek where participants of all ages explore the outdoors in search of hidden treasure and adventure, and chirp’s wireless interactivity introduces a world of possibilities for creative caches. Experienced cachers will embrace the countless options now available in creating cutting-edge caches, and beginners will appreciate chirp’s features that make those caches easier to find. Simple to use and password-protected, chirp can be programmed by any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld to store geocaching hints and other information. When other geocachers arrive near your cache, they’ll be alerted that the cache is nearby, and then they’ll be able to access the hints you’ve loaded into chirp. And when you return, chirp will tell you how many visitors have been to your cache.

With chirp, setting up and maintaining a multicache has never been easier. Using your compatible Garmin handheld device (such as Oregon, Dakota and the recently announced GPSMAP handhelds), chirp automatically transmits program coordinates so other cachers can find each stage of your multicache. Or if you’re on a multicache, chirp lets you download coordinates. So there’s no need to manually enter numerous sets of complex coordinates – there’s just one simple touch and you’re on your way to the next stage.

Designed and tested by geocachers, chirp is built to take the rigors of the outdoors. And because chirp is password protected, the owner is the only one with programming powers. With a battery life of up to a year and a battery that’s easy to replace, chirp is long-lasting and user-friendly. Measuring 1.3″ by 0.9″ (slightly bigger than a quarter) and weighing less than an ounce, chirp is small enough to incorporate easily into your favorite caches – whether they’re already placed or still being planned.

The helpful hints provided by chirp are brought to life through paperless geocaching, which allows geocachers to help the environment and be more efficient by having cache information downloaded and displayed directly on the device. Compatible Garmin models store and display details such as location, terrain, difficulty, hints and description, so that you don’t have to carry around printouts. Learn about geocaching, getting started and going paperless at www.garmin.com/geocaching.

Available now for a suggested retail price of $22.99, chirp represents the latest breakthrough from Garmin, which has spent more than 20 years developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ lives, making Garmin a household name in the automotive, aviation, marine, wireless, outdoor and fitness industries. For more about features and product compatibility, as well as information about Garmin’s other products and services, go to www.garmin.com, www.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/garmin.

SOURCE: SlashGear, Garmin



About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  1. Guardian sleuths 3

    Right On Jeremy, I’m excited about this new technology and plan to buy a wireless Garmin because I don’t have one right now…This Cache I’m working on in Dupont GC2MP3A is running chirp technology and the owner has provided alternate ways to gain the same information. I do wish and I do think that garmin needs to be more considerate and include Ground Speak in these release dates prior to actual release…You and ground speak have made the GPS industry boom and the number of users continues to skyrocket… My family and I truely appriciate Geocaching and we really enjoy the level of activity we get now that we are geocaching.

    Thank you for making the chirp apart of Geocaching.

    Note to Garmin>>you need to understand that I would not even have a Garmin nor would I be considering a $499.00 62ST Garmin if it was not for Groundspeak and Geocaching….

    Guardian Sleuths 3

  2. Before buying one of these to use in a geocache, cache owners should be aware that the announcement of this product caught the folks at Groundspeak TOTALLY flat footed. Garmin provided no prior warning. Groundspeak has very quickly reviewed this gadget, and based partly on the fact that the receivers are sole sourced (only certain Garmin handheld GPS units can receive and understand the content of a Chirp transmission), have arrived at the following compromise in their use. Per Jeremy hisself…

    “Garmin didn’t tell us about this product. We only became aware of it, by accident, two days prior to the public announcement.”

    and per Groundspeak, the following will apply as of this morning:

    Here is the current plan:

    1. A new attribute for a “beacon” will be added soon. Any caches that use a Chirp (or any future similar device) should use this attribute.
    2. If a cache owner puts a beacon in a traditional cache and geocachers have an alternative method to find it without using the beacon, then OK. I remind you to use the coming attribute.
    3. If the cache owner insists on not providing an alternative means of finding the geocache, it must be listed as a mystery with the beacon attribute.
    4. Cache descriptions may mention the “Chirp” as long as the text doesn’t go on and on with “overtones of advertising, marketing, or promotion” as per our long-standing commercial guidelines.
    5. We do not plan to add a new cache type just for this.

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