[ Rescue Dynamics Logo ] Outdoor Article of the Month - August 1999

Casio announces new GPS Watch !

by Cyril Shokoples

We knew it was coming! How many times have you said in idle conversation, "pretty soon they'll have a GPS in a watch"? Casio claims to be the world's first to do so. How did we get to this point?

First there were the large metal and stone devices for telling time. They called them sundials. They could never put that on your wrist so they made them mechanical. Then they made them digital. Then they put them on your wrist. As time went by, it was never enough to just know what time it was, so they added more stuff to your watch so your wrist could be intelligent. Soon you could have pseudo - intelligent looking bonding sessions with your colleagues by comparing what your wrist was saying.

Next, there were the magnetized bits of metal floating in a bowl. They called them compasses. They eventually made them pocket sized. Then they made them digital. Then they put them on your watch, I guess so you could tell which way your wrist was pointed.

Casio GPS Pathfinder WatchThen, they had these huge devices for measuring temperature. They called them thermometers. First they made them pencil sized. Then they made them digital. Now they put them on your watch, I guess so you can tell how hot your wrist is!

Then, they made these huge boxes for measuring barometric pressure and thus extrapolate altitude by using charts. They called them aneroid barometers and later altimeter / barometers. Yes, they reduced the box to pocket size. Sure, they made them digital. And, of course, they put them on your watch, I guess so you could tell how high you were holding your wrist.

Having seen the mistakes of centuries gone by, developers decided to skip a stage. They made GPS digital right off the bat. It didn't take them long to reduce the already small boxes to almost pocket size. And, sure as shooting, Casio has put them on a watch, I guess so you can know the precise location of your watch if you ever dropped it. You could hardly afford to replace such a techno gadget if you lost it!

Soon they will try to mash a thermometer, altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS all on your wrist together. I sure hope they don't forget to put the watch back in the package. After all, that is where this whole thing got started. Oh yeah, and throw in an instruction manual while you are at it!

The new PATHFINDER PAT1GP-1 watch only reads your position in Latitude / Longitude and does not display UTM grid coordinates as of yet. It is an 8 channel receiver and can store 200 waypoints. It is limited when compared with state of the art handheld GPS units, but still a wonder of miniaturization. No price was available. You can bet it's not going to be cheap. I am not sure if this new unit is capable of telling time! (just joking of course.)

It would appear that the new watch would be an aspiring mountain guide's ultimate weapon during guide's exams. As you casually check the time you sneak a peak at your GPS to make sure you are not lost again in a whiteout. Just don't let the examiners catch you. Heaven help you if they think you can't navigate in the backcountry without your techno watch…

For more information visit: http://www.casio.com

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