I read with interest the letter from Alfredo José Richner ’03 (Feb. 3) about the iPhone apps that he had created. Not wanting to be left out, I have created an app that recently was approved by Apple for inclusion in the App Store.
The application is “Geo Roamer Yellowstone,” a GPS-activated audio and visual guide to Yellowstone National Park. As you drive through the park, the GPS signal will activate the iPhone and tell you about the locations that you are approaching. The information was gathered from park historians, naturalists, and archivists, the real experts on the park. More than 125 locations are identified, with stories and information about each of them. They are shown on the moving map that is part of the application. Park passes and lodging or campground reservations also can be obtained from this program. One can drive through the park and have the phone tell you what you are looking at. There is no thumbing through guidebooks or road guides to distract you from enjoying the splendor of Yellowstone.
The concept of the application was initiated 15 years ago as a funding mechanism for the Wyoming Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, but it was restricted to a laptop, a GPS antenna, and a bunch of wires. Now the cell-phone technology has caught up to the idea that permits this knowledge to be delivered in a very cost-effective medium.
I first visited Yellowstone on a geology field trip in 1951 led by Dr. Erling Dorf and was in total awe of the work of this turbulent earth. Dr. Dorf was a stimulating teacher of field geology and had us all speculating on how these wonders came to be. It convinced me to major in geology, a field that I have been in my adult life. I was fortunate to have had exposure to the knowledge of Dr. Dorf and his department, and because of this I wanted similar information to be made available to other park visitors.
In the Nov. 18 President’s Page, Betty Leydon, vice president for information technology at Princeton, cited “geolocation technology” as one of the three emerging technologies of the future. I totally agree with her foresight.