5 Christmas Gift ideas for the Geogeek in your life.

I admit, this is quite the "Wish List" from your rich Uncle Montague. But they're neat to dream about and hope for someday. 

In no particular order. 

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1. Land Carpet.
Who doesn't want to stretch out on a map? Because paper is not really inviting, how about a map made out of genuine New Zealand wool? (did you know there are 7x more sheep in New Zealand than people?) Awesome. However at $2100 for a 6'x8' area rug, it's not for the typical GIS Technician's budget. Something a little more reasonable is the I Am Here Custom play-mat


2. Map Wheel
I know where I am, most of the time. The Map Wheel is a distinct custom made reminder of where that other place is in reference to wherever I call home, or whatever location you choose to be in the center. Kind of like the Direction Pole in the TV show MASH. A custom Map Wheel is about $100 US with about $10 shipping, but it's made in Australia.... soooo, it might have to be a Valentines Day present. 


3. World Map iPhone Case
Easy. $30. Wood. Looks nice. Made in Indiana by a guy named John, how American is that? Boom. Get it. Only for 4/4s & 5/5s. No iPhone 6 or 6+ yet. 

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4. Fitbit Surge
I like GPS & I am a watch wearer, but I'm not holding out for a Apple Watch. They look cool, but I don't have that kind of cash. Plus there are literally dozens of other smart/fitness/GPS/bluetooth watches on the market. I like a rectangle design and the Surge price tag of $250.

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5. Hand Made Globe
uh. I've tweeted about these before, and actually gotten a response from the folks at Bellerby & Co. These are amazing - beautiful - works of art made with care, precision and an obvious personal touch. My wife would grab her Scrapbooks running out the door in case of a home fire, I would grab this globe. Especially since the desktop version is about $1700 US. Save your pennies kids! Someday. Someday.


There you go. 5  rather unrealistic and completely unnecessary first-world presents to get for your resident geographer to celebrate Christmas.  
Got any other Ideas? Put them in the comments. 

So what's my accuracy??? Mobile Device GPS with iPad, iPhone, & Android

If you have ever been involved with a GIS project that requires data collection using a handheld device there is no doubt that you at some point ask yourself "Is this spatially accurate enough?".  Well here is some evidence that proves those little tiny GPS chips within those smart phones are actually pretty good.

We wanted to get some numbers for this idea so we took five different mobile devices (listed below) and tested their GPS accuracy against a known control point (NGS Point ID: DF4314).  Our chosen devices were:

  1. iPad 4th Gen (16GB WiFi + LTE)
  2. iPhone 4S (3G)
  3. Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
  4. Garmin Colorado 300
  5. Trimble Geo XH 6000

What we discovered was somewhat surprising.  As you can see from the list these devices vary in use from the simple smart phone for  GPS navigation & driving directions, to the professional series Trimble Geo capable of providing survey grade GPS positioning.  Below is a map showing the different precision & accuracy for each device in relation to the benchmark.  We stood over the known control point and collected five GPS points with each device and averaged them and found the following observations as a result:

Click here for map of plotted points

  • When it comes to accuracy, you get what you pay for as it was no surprise that the Trimble unit provided the greatest accuracy when used with real time corrections.
  • Most of the devices, such as the Motorola, had good precision but lacked in accuracy.
  • All devices, except for the Trimble, missed the mark in the northwest direction.
  • The uncorrected data from the Trimble provided very high precision but low accuracy.
  • The iPhone was all over the place on its readings but came within 4 feet of the target when the points were averaged (that's outstanding!)
  • In general, the iOS devices outperforms all of the competition when averaged except for the professional grade systems

So what does all of this show us?  It proves that you still have to pay big dollars (+$10k) to get a "high accuracy" GPS device but you can make an awfully strong case for a $600 iPad with the right data collection app.  Who knows, maybe the day of "survey grade" accuracy in a smartphone is in the very near future.  

A pile of GPS mobile devices sitting atop our known control point.