Technology

Google had a press conference yesterday (June 6) announcing several enhancements to their popular Google Maps system. There are a bunch of new changes coming our way including vastly improved 3D mapping of cities and offline maps but to me the coolest part of the announcement was the display of a new piece of hardware called the Streetview Backpack. Weighing 35 pounds; it comes with 15 five mega-pixel cameras mounted on top. Most of the backpack weight is from the several small motorcycle batteries to keep running all day. Google has plans to use it for mapping out hiking trails (eg. the Grand Canyon) as well as popular tourist spots where its Streetview Trikes can’t access. Google has already shown that they are willing to map rivers when they rolled out streetview sections of the Amazon River. Could your favourite campsite be showing up on the internet soon? Time will tell I guess. What do you think? Is it a good think that Google has plans to branch out and start mapping more remote areas? More info: gizmodo.com
In the news recently, I was reading about Googles new plan to start to map out UK bike and footpaths and add the images into their highly successful Streetview maps. They will be using a specially designed three-wheel bicycle that houses a 360 degree camera and onboard image capturing computer.This got me thinking about what would happen if this technology was adapted to the paddling world. What if somebody took a camera and added it to a canoe or sea kayak? It could be used to map out some of historic canoe roots throughout North America. Imagine sitting at your desk at work and dropping in and going for a quick virtual paddle before rushing off to your 3pm meeting?
Here is my own general rule of thumb for paddlers and their rate for embracing new technology and social networking tools. Whitewater paddlers jump on board right away followed shortly by sea kayakers. A long time later, canoeists will finally get on board after much complaining.Why? Who knows. I'm sure I could make up some grand reason why this is the case and I'm sure that it something to do with age demographics and whatnot. But the trend has been proven to me time and time again and you don't need to look much farther then the internet for a couple of examples. Back in the young days of the net, whitewater kayers jumped on forums like rec.boat.paddle (remember that?) to talk about learn and argue with each other. At the time, there wasn't a sea kayak forum to be seen, a couple of years later a few started up and today hundreds are out there if you really want to start digging. Canoeing? Well even today, there are only a handful of active ones with the biggest being the Canadian Canoe Routes forum. I'm sure there are others so prove me wrong and let me know.
Immersive Media has recently unveiled some pretty cool camera technology. They developed a camera that has 11 lenses and sensors to record seamless video 360 degrees in any direction including up and down. You might be thinking, "Big deal, I saw the 360 degree presentation at Disney World back in '86." Well, yes but the secret is in the software later. Because the camera shots footage in every single direction; during playback, it allows you to change the angle of the camera or zoom in at anytime giving you complete control of what you are watching. The system isn't for the faint of heart as pricing ranges from $45,000 to $100,000. Enough talk, take a look at this fantastic demo over on their website. Let's go whale watching or surfing. While the video is playing, you are able to control the direction of the camera by clicking and draging your mouse across the video. For the geeks out there, yes, it is the same system that Google used to develop their Street View layer in Google maps. Now imagine what This is the Sea 4 would look like with this system

New White Light LEDs Developed
Wednesday, 26 September 2007

It looks like scientists in India have been able to make considerable steps towards developing a pure white LED. Up until now, our headlamps have only been able to pump out blue and yellowish colours. The new LEDs are based on a new phosphor from semiconductor nanocrystals of cadmium sulfide mixed with manganese. It produces a stable shade of white light that remains constant over time and appears superior in overall performance in comparison to previous generations of white LEDs. The practical uses to achieving a white light would be for household and office lighting systems. And yes, your headlamp so you can blind your friends while standing around talking at night... LED Primer: merg.org.uk More info: physorg.com
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