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Posted: May 3, 2012 9:48 p.m.

Outdoor Gadgets

Ah, springtime. The perfect time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, blue sky and green grass.

"But, wait, isn't this a tech column?" you ask. "A column about gadgets, apps and whatnot?"

Yes, it is, and tech can be one of your best friends outdoors. Read on.

GoPro
My primary job as Electronic Media Producer at the Covington News is video production and photography. Outside of work, my favorite hobbies, not surprisingly, are video production and photography. So, it's no wonder that the first outdoor gadget I'm discussing is a camera.

The GoPro HD Hero2 camera is an amazing little camera with amazing features that fits in the palm of your hand. Its big feature? It's wearable, mountable and completely waterproof. The HD Hero2 action camera comes in three flavors: Outdoor, Motorsports and Surf. Each comes when corresponding straps and mounts to fit your adventure. For example, the Outdoor model comes with helmet straps for that first-person perspective while mountain biking, rock climbing or kayaking. You even get a professional suction cup mount with the Motorsports model.

The specs on this device are pretty astounding for such a small camera: full 1080p video, 11 megapixel photos, time-lapse photo mode and 10-photo burst mode (take 10 photos in 1 second). At smaller videos sizes like 720p HD, you can shoot at a faster "frames per second" rate allowing for fantastic slow motion video. MSRP: $300

Mophie Outdoor Juice Pack Plus
This next gadget is for all you adventure-bound iPhone owners. You probably want a case, right? You also don't want your iPhone battery to die when you're out in the middle of nowhere. Lastly, you probably want proper GPS features like waypoints and points of interest. The Mophie Outdoor Juice Pack Plus is the thing for you.

Taking their already-popular Juice Pack iPhone case, Mophie packed a little more punch in the Outdoor Edition. Being of the Juice Pack line, this iPhone case includes a built-in battery to give your iPhone more than double the battery life (up to eight extra hours of talk time or seven hours of Internet use over 3G).

Now, unlike the regular Juice Pack cases, the Outdoor Edition pairs with a free iPhone app from Mophie to overhaul the GPS capabilities of the iPhone. You no longer need to carry a separate GPS device. It gives you the ability to track your journey with waypoints, speed and elevation. The app includes downloadable high-quality maps that cover about 5 million square miles of the continental US and Hawaii, with the ability to zoom down to trail-level. Also included are maps of roads, trails and 1.2 million points of interest. The app is a free download from the App Store, however a yearly $29.99 subscription is required for the maps and other content. Thankfully, there is a 1-year subscription included with the purchase of the Mophie Outdoor Juice Pack Plus case. MSPR: $120

ShooTAG
You're hiking up the trail, taking a leisure kayak trip down the river or putting up camp for the night. What's one thing you want to avoid in those situations? Well, I don't know about you but for me, it would be bugs. And by bugs, I mean bugs like mosquitos, ticks, no-see-ums and the like. Traditionally, you would use some form of chemical repellant, light-colored clothing, or thermal repellents like citronella candles. These all have their issues with effectiveness, convenience and healthiness.

ShooTAG goes for the geeky approach to repel insects, which is why I'm fascinated by it. I was introduced to the ShooTAG when I was out on an assignment taking photos at a horse farm. The owner, rather than using chemical repellants on the horses or letting them fend off bugs all day themselves, used ShooTAGs. ShooTAG creates a "frequency barrier" around the wearer to repel bugs. It turns out there are certain sound frequencies (that people and animals can't hear) that insects can't stand. Luckily, ShooTAGs are not just for animals; they make them for people too!

The interesting thing about ShooTAG is that it works by encoding a frequency on a magnetic strip, like those you see on the back of credit cards. The frequency is then amplified or expanded around the person or animal "the natural energy field created" by the body, thus creating a barrier. Since the barrier is produced by the wearer, it moves with him or her, unlike citronella candles, for example, and it uses no potential harmful chemicals.

I'm still not sure what "natural energy field" means, but a study conducted by Texas A&M University showed that people without a ShooTAG received an average of 70 mosquito bits, while those with the ShooTAG averaged only 8. Over the whole study, ShooTAG wearers had a 74 percent reduction in mosquito bits. Sounds good to me.

The downside is that each bug responds to a specific frequency, so there is one ShooTAG for mosquitos, one for ticks, one for chiggers, etc. However, the devices are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $20 for a single device to $40-50 for a three-tag variety pack or four-tag family pack, respectively. They also last up to four months.


William Brawley is the Electronic Media Producer for the Covington News. He is an Apple fanatic and camera geek. If you have any tech issues or other questions email him at wbrawley@covnews.com.

 

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