Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Science & Technology: Offline Mobile App for Geoscience Outreach

How A Geologist Designed The Perfect App For The Window Seat (Fast Co.Design)

I was on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix, peering out the window as the sun rose over the snow-dusted alien topography of the southwest, when I saw it, what could only be describes as a volcano-like formation rising out of the ultra-flat landscape around it. I nudged my seatmate to check it out, wondering out loud what it was. (He gave me the side-eye.)

If I’d had the new app Flyover Country, I would have been able to pull up the exact coordinates of our flight using my iPhone (or android snartphone)’s GPS signal, which works even when in airplane mode. It would have explained that the formation below was a nine-mile-wide extinct volcano called Sierra Grande. It’s part of a line of faults, the Raton hotspot trail, stretching from Colorado into Arizona, roughly the route our flight was taking that morning.

Flyover Country is a National Science Foundation funded offline mobile app for geoscience outreach and data discovery. The app exposes interactive geologic maps from Macrostrat.org, fossil localities from Neotomadb.org and Paleobiodb.org, core sample localities from LacCore.org, Wikipedia articles, offline base maps, and the user’s current GPS determined location, altitude, speed, and heading. The app analyzes a given flight path and caches relevant map data and points of interest (POI), and displays these data during the flight, without in flight wi-fi. By downloading only the data relevant to a particular flightpath, cache sizes remain reasonable, allowing for a robust experience without an internet connection.

Flyover Country's usefulness is not limited to airplanes. It is also ideal for road trips, hiking, and other outdoor activities such as field trips and geology field work.