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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: GPS Based Orienteering Training

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 27, 2020 2:48 AM # 
I've been using an app called GPS Orienteering for over a year now - basically it allows running a course, while having a phone on you, without having to set out control points. This app is using the integrated GPS in the smartphone to decide if you have reached a control point and gives you a vocal/vibration indication when you get to the control. Unfortunately, I'm using an old Android phone that is not even on a network. My main phone is an iPhone and I'd love to be using it for this purpose.

A few questions:

1) GPS Orienteering is only available for Android phones. Is anyone aware of an app with the same functionality for iOS (iPhone)?

2) Any other apps that you are aware of that have similar functionality? I'm talking Android apps as well...for people that have experience with multiple apps, your comparison notes are welcome.

3) Any phones that are better than others in terms of GPS accuracy? this might be a broad question however I'd appreciate your insights

4) From your experience - is being on a network improves accuracy with these apps? most phones nowadays are using the cellular network to improve accuracy however I could not figure out if this app actually uses this data or relies only on the GPS component of the phone.

Jan 27, 2020 3:36 AM # 
MapRun is a similar app that I know is used a fair bit in Australia. Word is it's better (more accurate) on iPhone than Android but I know it works on both (I have Android).

Don't know about being on a network and whether that improves accuracy. The inbuilt GPS should tell you whether or not you're in the right place, provided you've downloaded the relevant map before you are off the network!
Jan 27, 2020 9:23 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
We're currently testing UsynligO (InvisibleO) which works on both platforms.
There is also a Garmin app that works on many ForeRunner models, no cell phone needed.
Jan 28, 2020 12:56 AM # 
I like the idea of map reading to tell us when we are and are not in the correct spot. All those other methods seem mind-weakening, do they not?
Jan 28, 2020 1:00 AM # 
Does the control flag marking the correct spot also count as mind-weakening? That's essentially the same.
Jan 28, 2020 1:39 AM # 
My mind is weakened just thinking about it.
Jan 28, 2020 1:45 AM # 
cmpbllv: Haven't tried it yet.

IOF's website on O-related software/apps:
Jan 28, 2020 5:02 AM # 
Thanks for the comments guys!

I looked into the options in this thread:

MapRun - has the functionality that I'm looking for however requires .KMZ files and not just PDF/JPEG files that can be manually aligned to the ground. I contacted the developer and he sent me some instructions however this will probably require some time to set up. Worth looking into though.

UsynligO - According to the app's description it is exactly what I'm looking for however I could not find an option to upload my own map. All the maps in the database are in Norway.

IOrienteering - This app uses physical QR codes so technically you sill need to set physical controls which kinda misses the point.

Orienteering Companion - an app that I found on Apple's app store - needs .KMZ files as well. As mentioned, not a straight forward task.

Any other ideas for apps or new insights?
Jan 28, 2020 11:47 AM # 
For UsynligO did you look at the Upload Event page? Looks like you just need the course XML and then PDFs from, e.g., Purple Pen.
Jan 28, 2020 1:30 PM # 
Terje: what is the Garmin app? That sounds super!
Jan 28, 2020 9:28 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
This was a news item on woo:
Jan 28, 2020 11:55 PM # 
MapRun uses maps in KMZ format – a common geo-ref’d image format readily viewable in Google Earth etc.
These are typically exported from OCAD or created from exports from (with a tool that auto-creates the KMZ file).

The map is only used for three purposes:
- so you can run without a paper map (although for normal club events, paper maps are normally provided)
- to display your track on the orienteering map on your phone,
- as the background map in the RouteGadget display of runners tracks in the results of an event.

Displaying your position and track is disabled during normal events, but can be switched on if you are doing mapping work,
or checking out control sites, so that you can see your position on the orienteering map as you go.

The latest version of MapRun (MapRunF), allows creation of events WITHOUT needing a map:
- you can set a quick personal course on your phone by dropping pins on the Google map, or
- anyone can upload an event (with or without a map) using the “Check Sites” feature. This gives you a 6-digit code to access the event.
Jan 29, 2020 2:11 AM # 
Thanks, Terje! Looking forward to a release, so I can give it a spin. Cool!
Jan 29, 2020 5:16 AM # 
My two cents on pre-aligned maps in apps:

I tried using a world file (.JGW) and .KMZ files with MapRun (on an iPhone), GPS Orienteering (on an Android) and Orienteering Companion (on an iPhone).

For some reason there are some inherited offsets in all of them on the two devices that I used. It might be related to my device, to the device that was used to record these values in these files in the first place or both. I personally believe that it is a combination of these factors + the fact that every GPS chip might record slightly different values but the bottom line is that every device needs to be calibrated differently to compensate for these errors. I'm sure that these files can be tweaked however that is a manual trial and error process that might be time consuming.

One solution that worked for me - GPS Orienteering allows the user to record the GPS coordinates of two distinct locations on the ground and pinpoint them on the orienteering map that is loaded in the app. By using some internal calculations, the app can compensate for any skews and sync the map to the ground. In my opinion this compensates for any inherited offsets that a pre-aligned map or world/.KMZ files may have.
Jan 29, 2020 7:44 AM # 
Just to add to the conversation - I suggest it’s worth thinking about the specific separate functions of the controls and maps.

At the core of GPS-based orienteering is the use of the GPS in the device to match locations in the list of controls represented as geo-coordinates. (typically Lat/Lng). It’s good to keep the required approach distance to a control to the minimum that can be practically achieved, and so getting the controls at accurate Lats/Lngs is critical. I suggest a good way to do this is to drop pins on features that can be identified in satellite imagery. Everything has inherent errors, but this works pretty well in practice. LiDAR can be good if you have it. Determining control sites using an Orienteering Map as the background is too inaccurate… move the control 1mm on a 1:10000 map and it’s moved 10m on the ground. Also, the rules of orienteering mapping mean that sometimes features are deliberately moved from their “correct” Lat/Lng to achieve separation between symbols etc.

How accurate the Orienteering Map is in a GPS-based Orienteering App, doesn’t affect the reliability of punching virtual controls. So, the map accuracy question is one of what purpose is being achieved by having the map in the App. … to replace the paper map (probably not), to display tracks in results, live tracking, etc.

One workflow that works pretty well for routine Club Street-O type events using GPS-based orienteering is:
- Setup the map – either as an export from (converted to KMZ) or OCAD export in KMZ
- Have the setter drop pins on features in Google Earth (GE). The Orienteering Map (KMZ) can be used as an overlay in GE, but ultimately the controls should be accurately placed on features identifiable in the satellite imagery (producing a KML file). GE is free and most people can get the hang of it, so setting can easily be disseminated to a larger group.
- When publishing the event, use a system that auto-generates the PurplePen file for printing. This is important to be sure that the controls in the App are the same as the ones on paper. (Having two independent versions of the event ultimately leads to problems.)

GPS accuracy is getting even better, especially where devices use multiple satellite systems. This is partly being driven by the needs of self-driving cars, auto-delivery via drones etc… so the future looks interesting!

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