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QR Codes + Trail Signs
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Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: QR Codes and Trail Signs on 06/18/2011 17:46:44 MDT Print View

>be able to transmit some information about yourself, based this two-way communication. Such as here is my last known location and please-update-me-with-the-latest-conditions.

Well it could make search and rescue operations faster. For those who wanted to use it anyway.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 06/18/2011 18:04:06 MDT Print View

"Are we trying to tame the wilderness with technology?"

I think Jared refers to it as the outdoor industry. Slightly different perspective?

"Can't we rely on our own navigation skills?"

The yawning chasm of the generation gap.

"What will a walker do when he goes off-trail and finds he has no nanny holding his hand (or phone)?"

Substrate for the Search and Rescue industry and potential candidate for the Darwin Award. Multiple use hiker.


Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 06/18/2011 20:31:16 MDT Print View

For me, it comes down to the argument what is the weakest link? Well, besides myself (a weak link, to be sure), I'd have to argue that electronics and mechanical items are the most likely to experience a failure. My topo map doesn't seem to suffer from these design defects, rather, as a printed page, with reasonable care it holds up fairly well.


Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 11:47:53 MDT Print View

Users - Mat, Thanks for bring that to light. During the concept phase of that I wasn't looking at the lawsuit aspect of things, but as this progresses and hopefully becomes real that is something that will be top priority.

Philosophy - I have had many discussions with fellow hikers, professors, and friends about this. I think the main focus of this whole project (which I will highlight in greater depth) is about where the hiker has been and not so much about navigation. We are a culture that relies so heavily on recording our past; which brought me to think about hiking and how we log where we've been. There will be little bits about water location, wild life, shelters, but in a way that makes it so the hiker does need to know before hand; planning is crucial to the success of a hike. One thing that is incredibly important for hikers is the ability to adapt to situations, and what better way to adapt that to know where things are. But again, this debate could go on forever.

Content Overview - Sorry for the delay on this one. I've been working on designing the pages of the App in photoshop so once I have it in a good place I'll post it. This way we can have a discussion about what is desired vs. what isn't since it will look the way as App actually looks instead of a few scribbles. But it will only be a first pass, so nothing finalized.

Maps vs. Electronics - I agree that maps work great as I love my maps. But I think the one thing my map fails at doing is providing me with up to date information. I think each person will elect to go with what ever level of technology suites them best. We could have a discussion about Water purifiers vs filters vs tablets. All are focused on cleaning water, but ultimately the user decides which piece of equipment to go with.

Thanks! Check back in soon!

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 13:51:07 MDT Print View

Hi Jared,
First, I commend you for putting your ideas in front of an audience as well-informed (and with as many strong opinions) as this one. If I may make a suggestion, as you move forward I think you should be very clear not only who the intended users will be, but where appropriate locations for these markers will be. I can think of places where I *would not* want your signs--if I was on your review panel, I'd be asking questions about this. Would your signage really be a good fit for the big wilderness areas in the American West, for example?

You might want to read this article by Ryan Jordan (I think it can be accessed by non-members):

It can be argued that humans have always tried to "tame the wilderness with technology," but as I'm sure you know, for at least the past 100 years, people have also tried to preserve some wild places *as* wild places. Your project *is* taking a position with regard to technology and wilderness, and seeing QR codes (or any signs) affects people whether they want it to or not--in my view, you'll need to address that.

Personally, as more and more people move to cities and abandon rural and semi-wild areas, I'm in favor of those places become more wild (ie, less safe). For example, I'd like to see grizzlies re-introduced to much of their historical territory, even if that makes it more hazardous for me to hike there.

I don't mind fencing off wilderness if that's what it takes to keep ATVs and snowmobiles out; but within wilderness I don't want any fences, guardrail, handrails, cell towers, etc. I'm in favor of a lot of road removal, and some trail removal as well. When I see a trail sign that's fallen down and illegible, I really don't consider that a problem.

I understand the argument that hikers endanger SAR personnel if they need rescue (and actually, I'm pretty risk-averse in my own hiking choices), but SAR do choose to take on that responsibility. It strikes me that the people one usually hears about getting in trouble are unprepared overnighters or dayhikers, who think they are on safe, well-marked trails--not sure your markers would change that.

I get that the primary purpose of your idea isn't safety, but opening new possibilities for trip documentation. But because your markers would be a physical presence on the landscape, there's plenty of places where they would detract from the experience I want in the backcountry, whether I choose to use them or not. By contrast, if I don't carry a GPS unit, I can ignore GPS signals as if they didn't exist.

Edited by DavidDrake on 06/19/2011 14:04:16 MDT.

Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

Re: Re: Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 14:38:43 MDT Print View

David - I greatly appreciate your comments and thoughts, thank you. You covered a lot of great things and I guess I could start by narrowing the potential area of use. I had done so with school presentations but not yet here in this thread.

Thanks for the link to the article, I will read that and hopefully that will provide many insights.

**How would you feel about this being implemented along the AT? Rather than in a large national park such as Denali?

Locations -Originally I was exploring areas that see heavy use.

White Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
Pacific Crest Trail
....just to name a few quick ones.

I do agree that there needs to be wilderness that needs to be left the way it is with out shelters, bridges and so on.

I don't intent for this to be something that increases the number of signs along trails. I view existing trail signs as an opportunity to add something like this to.

A lot of great stuff! I appreciate you taking time to post in the thread, thanks.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 17:47:52 MDT Print View

It looks like virtual Smokey the Bear tours are just around the corner. Just like at the museum; point your device at the code, scan it, plug your headphones...


"Well howdy hiker! Smokey the Bear here. Welcome to YOUR National Park! You're looking at a Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa), one of the tallest species of pine, known for it's orange colored bark...

And remember...Stamp fires out DEAD. Watch your step and come again soon!

...This message has been brought to you by Tide Green. The same great cleaning power you've come to expect but now without phosphates."


I think Edward Abbey would be having a field day with this.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 17:50:33 MDT Print View

"I think Edward Abbey would be having a field day with this."

So would The Monkey Wrench Gang. ;)

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Users / Philosophy / Content Overview / Maps vs. Electronics on 06/19/2011 18:19:34 MDT Print View

I guess I still don't see the need for this, especially in a heavily used area like the White Mountains.

It's so easy to find up to date information on weather, trail conditions, and water sources. Every AMC and RMC facility (back-county and front-country) posts the daily 0700 MWO weather forecast. Ask the caretaker or crew about trail conditions or water. Ask the other hikers you pass on the trail. Read a guidebook or natural history guide for the area.

Heck, if you want to carry a smartphone, cell service is widely available in the Whites if you want information off the Internet. Carry a PLB if you want to SAR easier.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Local Preserves, Special Info, Interpretive Data on 06/20/2011 09:09:46 MDT Print View

The application of this technology which excites me the most is in regard to local parks, preserve trails and locations where "the normal public" or teachers with classes of any age student are likely to hike and, statistically, to have a device that reads QR codes. To be able to link them to an interpretive slide show, or to a short audio file about the particular habitat feature, or even to a "you are here" map could be a great thing.

This has nothing to do with the erection of cell towers in the Sierra, the sudden presence of people in the outback able to navigate easily without buying $600 worth of Garmin and the latest Marmot ultralight shell or the deprivation of anyone seeking to hike or visit anywhere. It has to do with the simple, low-impact, fat-free, free-range provision of information to folks that ARE INTERESTED.

Check it out: if folks in the outback don't take their smart phones with them or we don't have cell coverage, there won't be much reason to put a QR code on a trail sign, will there? I don't bring mine, because I prefer to navigate with a 14th century sextant and a compass I made from metal I found in White Sands NM. So, when there aren't any QR codes in a place where I can't use them anyway, will it matter? Is this really evidence that Skynet goes live?

Relax, Don't Worry, Have a homebrew...

In the meantime, I can say this: I think the idea is a winner and that it's ready to use with HTML links. To have an explanation and photo of the Least Bell's Vireo that may live in a meadow the hiker is overlooking, or a page describing the importance of the local watershed feeding the creek in a preserve, or a link to the USFS Avalanche Conditions webpage... all seems very obviously desirable (albeit not mandatory) to me.

Keep up what you're doing!

Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

New Prototypes! on 06/22/2011 15:25:39 MDT Print View

Erik - Thanks for your support! I appreciate it, hopefully in about a few hours when I post up some of the images of the App, we can all start a discussion about what everyone would want to see in that App as well as what everyone doesn't want to see in it.

As the subject line reads, New Prototypes!

I tried a few different things out, mainly in regards to obtaining the proper contrast ratio for the QR codes as well as trying a few new materials.

The first new prototype is actual my first prototype that I put on the Bridgeport and machined out the old QR code that was originally etched in. This time I etched and painted a QR code on to the back of clear acrylic and placed it in the sign as an in-lay.

My thoughts, not loving the look. I think it can look much better. Performance, despite the egg shelled paint (I was in a hurry and applied the past super fast) the QR code was still readable!

QR Sign Prototyped with inlay

The second of the new prototypes is all wood and has two coats of Shellac that I am about to test some weathering stuff on. The sign has extra space at the bottom as I am exploring the development of a standardized sign. Just mocking things up.

QR Sign with 2 Coats Shellac

Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

App Development on 06/22/2011 16:43:53 MDT Print View

So I'm finally at a place where I have some stuff that is worth showing.

Please keep in might that this is just a first pass and things will continue to evolve.
As always, comments are always welcome.

Opening screen, still working on the Branding.
Opening Screen

Once the QR icon is tapped, the QR reader will appear.
QR - 1
QR - 2
QR - 3
QR - 4

Once the profile icon is tapped, the hikers Profile will appear Information and graphs will be generated through the use of Analytics; the app will keep track of the times that the QR codes are scanned and use the location of the signs to tell the hiker various information about distances, times, shelters, etc. Also, when QR codes are scanned, the hikers family, friends (who ever they designate) can check in on them via the website rather than the hiker constantly calling or texting.
Profile - 1
Profile - 2

Once the Trail icon is tapped, information pertaining to that section of the trail appears. Everything from post office locations to trail usage history will be available.
Trail - 1
Trail - 2
Trail - 3
Trail - 4

Once the Itinerary icon is tapped, the trip itinerary appears. From there the hiker can plan out meals, as well as setting goals for when they want to be at destinations.
Itinerary - 1
Itinerary - 2

Sorry about the obnoxiously long post, just wanted to provide images that are easy to see on everyones monitors. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts and anything you'd like to see added or taken out. Hopefully with the feedback from everyone, I can make this much stronger. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Edited by jared.downs on 06/22/2011 17:04:06 MDT.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 06/22/2011 17:01:00 MDT Print View


Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

Re: Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 06/22/2011 17:11:06 MDT Print View

Timothy - I actually laughed when I read that. Thanks for taking the time to generate that.

I do appreciate your thoughts and comments.

I hope no one here is getting worked up about my project, I hope everyone knows that this is only my senior thesis project and isn't in production or being installed. Although I have been able to make the signs and have started to develop the App, this doesn't mean that this is going to be a reality on every trail across the US.

My aim is to allow for the transfer of more information to and from hikers while on trail, that utilizes unused space on existing signs.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: Re: QR Codes + Trail Signs on 06/26/2011 23:57:37 MDT Print View

Well I think it's pretty cool.

Jared Downs
(jared.downs) - F

Small QR Code on 06/28/2011 07:23:19 MDT Print View

New exploration. Over the past few days I've been exploring smaller options, as suggest by a few members.

I'm thinking rather than adding the QR code to the sign, having a small removable piece will be best.

Still working on the App and the content within it.

Let me know your thoughts.


Here's a quick mock up.

QR code Mock up

Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
Re: Small QR Code on 06/28/2011 07:31:48 MDT Print View

Jared - yes! Those look great.

I think those could work well in many ways: cost to make, cost/ease of adding to current signage, cost/ease of maintenance, and, of course, they're small, attractive for what they are, unobtrusive, yet effective for their purpose. Nice.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
dead technology? on 06/28/2011 07:57:36 MDT Print View

I can't help but think that QR Coded are a dying technology. Augmented Reality browsers like Layar are already available for smart phones, even if they are just in their infancy. When these technologies are rolled out in the next 5 to 10 years, QR codes will disappear.

Why scan a QR code when you will be able to look through a smart phone or some other device and view multiple layers of information on exactly what you're viewing?

Heather Corder
(corder) - F
Re: Small QR Code on 01/27/2012 07:51:55 MST Print View


I am an undergrad doing a research project on technology in specific tourism segments, and I have chosen to do my paper on QR codes in parks and campgrounds. I am focusing on their ability to provide hiking/bike trail maps, updates from other users about possible problems along the trail, and possibly weather updates (much like the system in Japan called "M-navi"). My project is just a simple informational paper, and I am not trying to make prototypes. I'm simply focusing on how, if at all, the QR codes are presently implemented in parks, and how the QR codes could benefit this particular tourism segment. However, I can't find any information about the QR codes being used in U.S. parks to provide anything other than general information about historical sites. If you know of any parks in the U.S. that are implementing or already taking full advantage of QR codes please let me know. Also, I was wondering if it would be okay to site you and your work in my paper, and possibly use some of your photos in my presentation. Thanks for the help!

Ryan Nakahara
(kife42) - F

Locale: Hawaii
qr or nfc on 01/29/2012 19:03:34 MST Print View

you know, i've been thinking about QR codes on trails vs NFC stickers. weatherproof NFC stickers should hold up pretty well compared to a smudged out QR code. also NFC can hold a fair amount of write once or rewritable data, whereas QR usually needs internet access to do anything. if you wanted a virtual wall where internet access was not available, that might be the way to go. not many phones use NFC yet obviously, but something to think about for the future.