Today we're excited to announce the creation of OpenCaching.com, a completely free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world. As Garmin blog readers know, geocaching is a fun outdoor activity that combines exploration, education, entertainment and recreation. At OpenCaching.com, everyone can enjoy all of the caches and helpful information – the tips, descriptions, previous attempts, mass downloads, etc. – for free. With the announcement of OpenCaching.com, we're also introducing Opie, our helpful and fun-loving mascot, and a new Twitter home - @OpenCache - for all things OpenCaching.
“Garmin is extending its reputation for ease of use even further into geocaching, creating the most intuitive experience possible,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “By making it free and easy to download every detail of every cache, Opencaching.com will introduce more people to this great activity and show them just how fun, easy and rewarding it can be. OpenCaching.com gives us a chance to go beyond the development of hardware and software and interact directly with the vibrant global community of cachers.”Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt where participants of all ages explore the outdoors, hiding and finding containers of various shapes and sizes that are filled with collectables, trinkets and logbooks for signing in and letting fellow cachers know you were there. Creating a cache consists of placing a container in a public area, saving the GPS coordinates and uploading them to a website. Finding a cache is as simple as searching the website and downloading those details to a GPS handheld. As free and open as the great outdoors, OpenCaching.com was created to help promote the growth of geocaching and build the worldwide community of cachers.
The Awesome Factor
Continuing Garmin’s role as an innovator within the geocaching community, OpenCaching.com gives creators and seekers alike a way to quantify the “Awesomeness” of any given cache. While every cache has its enjoyable elements that make it unique, everyone has personal favorites that defy traditional descriptions. For that reason, OpenCaching.com lets users rank the Awesomeness in addition to size, terrain and difficulty. These four factors are displayed in a “bulls-eye” illustration for each cache, giving geocachers a unique and vivid idea of the fun that lies ahead. And cachers themselves can rate these factors, turning the bulls-eye illustration into a true representation of peer reviews.
Open to everyone
The strength of OpenCaching.com lies within the geocaching community, from diehard cachers to families and classrooms trying it for the first time (for which there is an informative how-to guide included on the site). Everyone – regardless of experience or numbers of caches found or placed – is welcome to the same information and invited to get as involved as they want. OpenCaching.com will work with any device or software package that can read GPX files, regardless of manufacturer.
“Because OpenCaching is brand new, we’re counting on cachers everywhere to get creative and get involved,” said Bartel. “We want everyone who posts, seeks and finds a cache to have the pride of ownership in this new site, and there’s no better way than to build it together. As the word gets out about OpenCaching, we expect the number of caches posted to grow quickly.”
Through the recent announcements of OpenCaching.com and the chirp wireless geocaching beacon, geocachers around the world now have exciting new tools to unleash the potential of their creativity. Garmin is just one of countless businesses – large and small, corporate and self-owned – that make up the interdependent geocaching ecosystem. From collectables to events to software such as mobile, web-based and desktop applications, these creative collaborations stimulate ideas and enthusiasm. Garmin’s goal is to provide even more support and opportunities to the various innovators involved in this global activity.
For cachers who have created or found caches elsewhere, Garmin designed OpenCaching’s cache code system to seamlessly coexist and integrate with other databases, devices and applications. Also, developers can access the OpenCaching.com database through an API, and cache owners can share their information on other sites through the Creative Commons license. Cachers can quickly get credit for cross-listed caches found on other sites and easily add existing caches they own to OpenCaching.com, where they can also be tagged and enhanced with more helpful information.
A legacy of innovation
Since geocaching first began, Garmin has embraced the role of innovator and leader. Garmin was the first company to offer open and closed treasure chest icons on the screen of the device. Garmin devices featured the first dedicated application with the “Geocaching compass,” and the direct “Send to GPS” function started with Garmin. In considering the environment – and ease of use – the industry leader introduced paperless geocaching for increased efficiency and decreased waste as users could see descriptions and helpful hints right on the screen of the device instead of relying on numerous printouts for each cache.
Garmin’s recently announced chirp wireless beacon is the latest breakthrough in 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.