Google Earth Adds Hiking Trails, GPS Data

    April 13, 2007

The sun is setting, you’re surrounded by trees, and you just heard a noise that sounded like Jabba the Hut’s rancor monster.  Never fear – Google and Trimble will get you home.  Thanks to a new GPS content layer, they’ll also get you “a wide variety of multimedia data on fitness and outdoor adventures, including routes, points of interest, pictures, video and audio.”

Larry Fox, a Trimble employee who works in business development, explained the concept.  “Trimble Outdoors is providing Google Earth users with the first multimedia GPS content layer for outdoor adventure seekers,” he said.

And while the data will be accessible from a number of cell phones and GPS devices, there are also options for those of us sitting at our computers.

“[U]sers can view a 3D trip of running, bicycling or hiking destinations gaining a unique perspective with the addition of audio, video, photos and detailed editorial,” stated Fox.  “Through this interactive interface, users can not only see an activity, they can share an experience.”

The Official Google Blog is carrying two pictures that demonstrate the new data layer at work; the coverage is pretty impressive, at least in the southern California.  And judging from a thread in the Groundspeak Forums, user reactions are tending towards the positive.  “Have to say this is pretty cool,” wrote “Bus36,” a premium member.

So the next time you’re planning a hike, or even after you’re out on the trails, give Google and Trimble a thought.  Just keep an eye out for that rancor while you’re playing with your cell phone.