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ROVE


Biquidou
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https://www.gorove.com/

 

Do you have more info?

 

Hi Biquidou, I am one of the people behind ROVE and would be glad to answer your questions. However, since this forum should not be used for promoting commercial interests, I'm reluctant to provide a general "sales pitch" for ROVE here. If you have a very specific question, I can likely answer it here. If you have questions of a more general nature, feel free to look at our website's FAQ or send me a note (personal message on geocaching.com or via our website). Cheers!

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Hi northernpenguin and Red90, the $149 currently shown on the website is our tentative MSRP. We're working hard to get the price down and there will be some introductory deals when the product first becomes available for purchase. That said, ROVE is a sophisticated piece of hardware as we had more engineering challenges than you might initially consider (we'll describe some of these on our website over the coming weeks). For example, you would find that most tablets, especially the low-end models, would not be able to communicate with most GPS receivers out there for some non-obvious electrical reasons.

 

We appreciate the input, thanks!

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LostMyMarbles, you lost ccredibity to me with this remark (and others) on your FAQ page:

 

Why can't I just use my mobile phone to find geocaches?

You can try but mobile phones are only accurate to 50m.

 

Overall, it's a cool idea -- the question of how to get GPS info, geocachers etc, from a cellphone into a GPS in the field comes up fairly often around here. But your FAQ page should play up the real advantages rather than exaggerated blanket statements about deficiencies in the alternatives.

 

I'll wait for real user reviews to see where the advantages really are.

Edited by user13371
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Hi user13371, thanks for the feedback and I take the blame for that item on the FAQ. I made a statement during one of our "competitive advantage" discussions that I'd be lucky to get 50m accuracy with my iPhone GPS navigation apps during some outings. That statement made its way on to our website but, of course, it's too broad a statement to imply that no smartphone could possibly do better than 50m accuracy in all circumstances. In all fairness, I have at least one dedicated GPSr (internal antenna models) that can't do much better than an iPhone in moderately dense tree cover. We'll review our FAQ early next week for other such statements.

 

Personally, the big three reasons I use a dedicated GPSr instead of my smartphone for navigating while geocaching (as well as hiking and kayaking) are, in order: accuracy, battery life, and ruggedness. I still use the geocaching app for my iPhone, though. For looking up cache descriptions and logs, the user interface is far better on the iPhone, no question.

 

Thanks again! We'll incorporate your suggestions early next week.

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... the big three reasons I use a dedicated GPSr instead of my smartphone for navigating while geocaching (as well as hiking and kayaking) are, in order: accuracy, battery life, and ruggedness.[/Quote]

Same here. But am I missing something? To use Rove you still need to carry your cellphone, don't you? How does Rove help with the last two cellphone weaknesses you mentioned (battery life and ruggedness)?

Edited by user13371
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As an aside on price, I am eagerly waiting to see how Garmin's new Oregon 6x0 series will work with cellphones. If BaseCamp app on iPhone makes it easy to share data between phone and app, Rove's market niche is going to depend a lot on pricing -- it'll have to be priced well below the difference between the new Oregon and the older models that don't support Bluetooth.

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Same here. But am I missing something? To use Rove you still need to carry your cellphone, don't you? How does Rove help with the last two cellphone weaknesses you mentioned (battery life and ruggedness)?

You're right - you still need your tethering-capable phone with you to use ROVE. But, you don't need physical access to your phone to use ROVE. Typically, I'll have my phone in a waterproof bag, stashed securely somewhere in my daypack or below deck in my kayak. ROVE does its thing automatically without the need to install or use apps on the phone.

 

Concerning battery life, most phones can sit idle for days if not actively being used. Turning on realtime navigation on my iPhone, however, causes the battery to run down very quickly, typically less than an hour in our tests (some newer phones are better but not great). When using ROVE, the battery drain on the phone is only significant for the short time (15 seconds typical) it takes to transfer data.

 

We are, of course, watching closely to see what Garmin does with Bluetooth functionality in the new Oregon models. TomTom has held patents on integrating GPS receivers with phones and has been a leader in this area. I assume Garmin has either worked around the patents or licensed the technology. Either way, it should be interesting.

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LostMyMarbles, that's a good point about shutting off GPS on the phone being a good battery saver. When I've gona on long bike rides, I've had various topo maps loaded locally on the phone. Kept it in my pocket turned off, or at least in airplane mode. With eTrex on the handlebars, I only need to turn on the phone once in a while for a quick look at the better maps or to send my location to someone.

 

So 15 seconds for a data transfer sounds good -- what is that, a GPX upload or download to share a trail? Does Rove also handle live tracking, a la Glympse? What's the battery & data overhead for something like that?

Edited by user13371
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.... TomTom has held patents on integrating GPS receivers with phones and has been a leader in this area. I assume Garmin has either worked around the patents or licensed the technology.

Not sure what specific capabilities are covered by TomTom's patents, or how they would limit what other GOS devices could do with phones.. There are already numerous Bluetooth GPSRs that work with iOS and Android phones; including the DeLorme inReach and the Garmin Fenix. Were there ideas Rove wanted to use that were protected by TomTom or someone else's patent?

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If the price point gets down below $100 I will look more seriously at the device, as I already have my eTrex 30 and have no intention of going Oregon 600 series any time soon.

I like the idea of loading my GPS from the ROVE, it 's just that $149 is the cost of a full blown eTrex 20 in itself. Really hard to swallow an accessory for my GPS that comes right up to GPS replacement cost!

 

Now then, I have a few functionality questions:

 

- Right off the top, I'm building Garmin compatible maps (see my signature). This trail sharing feature, how "shareable" is it. Can someone send me a link to download a GPX of their ROVE trail upload? That would be pretty handy

 

- I load my GPS through GSAK, so I can send the geocaching child waypoints as Garmin POI files. Garmin is a little silly cluttering the unit's waypoints with child waypoints and it's easier to send Parking, Trailhead, et al as POIs and keep my own POIs separate. Can ROVE send Geocaching child waypoints as a POI file?

 

- Since I'm Canadian and I'm getting a little cynical about technology launches these days (last three OMG gotta have it tech things I found on Gizmodo, et al, were USA only launches) ... is this going to be available outside the United States. Don't need a local reseller per se but will you ship to Canadians.

 

- Will it work with iPhones? iPhone 4 (old bluetooth) or 4S/5 (bluetooth 4.0)?

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When checking out the ROVE site, I went from amazed to disappointed in the span of two minutes. It requires a separate smartphone, it's not self-contained with a data plan to load caches on-the-fly. Even so, that's a severely limited idea, because if I depend on caches being loaded upon arrival, the whole caching trip is over if I don't have a data signal when I arrive. ROVE fills a niche that may never apply to me. Plus I'd have to buy a smart phone with a data contract, things I've been able to avoid by buying a dedicated GPSr.

 

How smart is the ROVE smartphone App? If I suddenly feel the need to cache in a place that I didn't pre-plan (thus have no Pocket Query loaded), yet can't set up my PC (or wifi-only Android Tablet) for some reason, that might be handy -- IF I can designate the area that I need the caches for (such as a remote spot cache area where there will be no data service).

Edited by kunarion
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So 15 seconds for a data transfer sounds good -- what is that, a GPX upload or download to share a trail? Does Rove also handle live tracking, a la Glympse? What's the battery & data overhead for something like that?

The data transfer is not GPX format but it would be easy enough to generate GPX files on our servers if there is demand for that feature.

 

ROVE does not do live tracking, sorry! You can plug ROVE into your GPS receiver multiple times during a hike to update your trail map (the new track data will be immediately reflected in the map online) but it is not designed to be left plugged into your GPS continuously.

Edited by Lost My Marbles
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.... TomTom has held patents on integrating GPS receivers with phones and has been a leader in this area. I assume Garmin has either worked around the patents or licensed the technology.

Not sure what specific capabilities are covered by TomTom's patents, or how they would limit what other GOS devices could do with phones.. There are already numerous Bluetooth GPSRs that work with iOS and Android phones; including the DeLorme inReach and the Garmin Fenix. Were there ideas Rove wanted to use that were protected by TomTom or someone else's patent?

We were initially concerned about some of the existing patents that cover transmitting GPS data via phones. It turned out, however, that our approach was unencumbered by existing patents. So, we filed our own application and have our own patent pending on ROVE.

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If the price point gets down below $100 I will look more seriously at the device, as I already have my eTrex 30 and have no intention of going Oregon 600 series any time soon.

I like the idea of loading my GPS from the ROVE, it 's just that $149 is the cost of a full blown eTrex 20 in itself. Really hard to swallow an accessory for my GPS that comes right up to GPS replacement cost!

 

We're listening and, ultimately, economies of scale play a big part in pricing. If there is high demand for ROVE, we can manufacture the product in larger batches and the cost per unit will drop.

 

Now then, I have a few functionality questions:

- Right off the top, I'm building Garmin compatible maps (see my signature). This trail sharing feature, how "shareable" is it. Can someone send me a link to download a GPX of their ROVE trail upload? That would be pretty handy

 

At the moment, sharing of trails is via Google Maps and we have prototyped the software required to generate KML (e.g. Google Earth) from the trails as well (we will include KML export on our website as soon as it passes quality assurance for a public release). Exporting to GPX would be fairly easy for us to implement and, as you are the second poster to ask about this, I am adding GPX export to our feature requests.

 

- I load my GPS through GSAK, so I can send the geocaching child waypoints as Garmin POI files. Garmin is a little silly cluttering the unit's waypoints with child waypoints and it's easier to send Parking, Trailhead, et al as POIs and keep my own POIs separate. Can ROVE send Geocaching child waypoints as a POI file?

 

Not with the current firmware but that's a good feature request. We will consider how to implement that.

 

- Since I'm Canadian and I'm getting a little cynical about technology launches these days (last three OMG gotta have it tech things I found on Gizmodo, et al, were USA only launches) ... is this going to be available outside the United States. Don't need a local reseller per se but will you ship to Canadians.

 

We're a Canadian company, so, yes! We have shipping contracts in place for 20 countries when we launch.

 

- Will it work with iPhones? iPhone 4 (old bluetooth) or 4S/5 (bluetooth 4.0)?

 

ROVE is compatible back to at least the iPhone 3G and likely earlier models as well.

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When checking out the ROVE site, I went from amazed to disappointed in the span of two minutes. It requires a separate smartphone, it's not self-contained with a data plan to load caches on-the-fly. Even so, that's a severely limited idea, because if I depend on caches being loaded upon arrival, the whole caching trip is over if I don't have a data signal when I arrive. ROVE fills a niche that may never apply to me. Plus I'd have to buy a smart phone with a data contract, things I've been able to avoid by buying a dedicated GPSr.

 

You're right that you need a tethering-capable phone and you need to be within range of a cell network to use ROVE. Strictly speaking, the phone does not need to be "smart" but, practically, most phones capable of tethering are going to be smartphones.

 

How smart is the ROVE smartphone App? If I suddenly feel the need to cache in a place that I didn't pre-plan (thus have no Pocket Query loaded), yet can't set up my PC (or wifi-only Android Tablet) for some reason, that might be handy -- IF I can designate the area that I need the caches for (such as a remote spot cache area where there will be no data service).

 

ROVE does not require an app on the phone. It tethers to the phone via Bluetooth much like a laptop can tether to a phone for accessing the Internet. ROVE does not currently download Pocket Query results but, if it did, you could define a Pocket Query with your phone's web browser and ROVE could transfer those down to your GPS while you're still in range of a cell network. I'll add this to our list of feature requests right now.

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The niche appeal for this product gets smaller with each clarification :unsure:

There were two core problems that we really wanted to solve with ROVE 1) make it super easy to download geocaches to your GPS receiver, and 2) make it super easy to share GPS tracks of where you've been with others. We certainly plan to offer more with ROVE over time (support for Magellan and other GPS receivers, support for entirely different devices like digital cameras, etc.) but we wanted to solve those two core problems on Garmin receivers first. I think we've done that. But, we're always incorporating feedback into our development plan so, if there's something I've said that's a deal breaker for you, please let me know and we'll see what we can do.

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Sorry if my remarks came out snarky. Well, not "sorry" per se, just that I know not everyone would have gotten the joke.

 

The thing is, it's already "super easy" for the majority of users to do that at home. ROVE does look like a cool solution for loading data in the field, or for the small subset of folks who ONLY have an iOS or Android device in lieu of a PC or Mac...

 

But as I said, that's a small niche (Hi, Walt!), and this seems like a more expensive product than either a USB-OTG cable or even a battery operated pocket WiFi hotspot - other options that have been discussed for this purpose.

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if there's something I've said that's a deal breaker for you, please let me know and we'll see what we can do.

 

- Support GPX.

 

- Get the price under $100. There's something magic about that number.

 

Edited to change my comment about live tracking: If Rove isn't convenient to leave plugged in to a dedicated GPS all the time' it wouldn't be good even for "almost" live tracking..

Edited by user13371
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1) make it super easy to download geocaches to your GPS receiver

That’s a feature that I’ve been looking for: the ability to load “nearby caches” into the Garmin, wherever I am. I wonder if a wifi-only Android tablet is up to the task. Maybe that works with ROVE through Bluetooth just like a “phone” would? If so, it would save time at a Hotspot, over trying to load the caches manually.

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So all it does at the moment in regard to cache loading is load "nearby" caches via a live internet connection from the pair device? I'm not sure what things are like in NS, but anywhere here that you would want to specifically use a handheld, there is no cell coverage. You must load everything in advance.

 

Anyway, I still hold that it needs to be $50 or so to get much market. I understand how difficult that would be for a low production device.

 

With Garmin including these features (or close to) in their new units, timing may not be the best.

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So all it does at the moment in regard to cache loading is load "nearby" caches via a live internet connection from the pair device? I'm not sure what things are like in NS, but anywhere here that you would want to specifically use a handheld, there is no cell coverage. You must load everything in advance.

 

Anyway, I still hold that it needs to be $50 or so to get much market. I understand how difficult that would be for a low production device.

 

With Garmin including these features (or close to) in their new units, timing may not be the best.

 

Particularly if Garmin notices the niche and releases something of their own to work with BaseCamp Mobile and their cloud.

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So all it does at the moment in regard to cache loading is load "nearby" caches via a live internet connection from the pair device? I'm not sure what things are like in NS, but anywhere here that you would want to specifically use a handheld, there is no cell coverage. You must load everything in advance.

 

Anyway, I still hold that it needs to be $50 or so to get much market. I understand how difficult that would be for a low production device.

 

With Garmin including these features (or close to) in their new units, timing may not be the best.

 

Particularly if Garmin notices the niche and releases something of their own to work with BaseCamp Mobile and their cloud.

 

Sorry I've been slow to reply to the last few comments here.

 

We have heard a number of comments from those that want more than just "nearby" caches. We're working on a solution involving pocket queries that will hopefully address that issue, at least for some users.

 

We are definitely following Garmin's work with Bluetooth connectivity in the Oregon 600/650. I can't speculate what their future plans are but it looks to be initially geared towards supporting Bluetooth Low Energy sensors, much like the ANT+ sensors are supported by some models.

 

We brought the price down to $99 for the Indiegogo campaign that we just launched. That puts ROVE's pricing more in line with other Bluetooth accessories out there and hopefully makes ROVE a little more accessible to a broader group.

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Sorry if my remarks came out snarky. Well, not "sorry" per se, just that I know not everyone would have gotten the joke.

 

The thing is, it's already "super easy" for the majority of users to do that at home. ROVE does look like a cool solution for loading data in the field, or for the small subset of folks who ONLY have an iOS or Android device in lieu of a PC or Mac...

 

But as I said, that's a small niche (Hi, Walt!), and this seems like a more expensive product than either a USB-OTG cable or even a battery operated pocket WiFi hotspot - other options that have been discussed for this purpose.

 

Hi yourself.

 

Was thinking of where you live as I sit here in the rain. I finally capitulated. Although the solutions did work; the small phone screen and double end cable were annoying. Bought a Acer Aspire One (cheaper than most tablets) whose only missions are caching (GSAK) and doing my travel blog (although my iPad does a pretty good job on the blog).

 

If I ever decide to dump the iPad (not likely) for an android I would be able to do it all with one device.

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