Last week we went for a short ski trip to Les Arcs. Geeky as we are, we cannot survive without beer, gadgets and bit of Java. Availability of the first was not problem and to not loose contact with the other two I decided to play a bit with OpenGTS, a Treo650 and a wireless GPS receiver.

OpenGTS (Open GPS Tracking System) builds on OpenDTMP and is a Java based GPS Tracking system. It consists of:

  • A server that receives GPS events from a mobile device
  • An app on the mobile device that reads the GPS data from the GPS Receiver and sends updates to the servr at a configurable interval (GPRS connection needed, I used a Treo650 running a J2ME client provided by the OpenDTMP project).
  • A web application (Track) that allows you to manage the devices and see the 'live' movement of registered devices.
  • A web application (Events) that allows you to export the data in csv or kml format (so you can directly use it in GoogleMaps).

Using the included documentation made installation and configuration of OpenGTS a breeze.
On the slopes, I discovered that "mounting" the GPS mouse to the ski outfit was no so straightforward. No dashboard to place it on and after being switched of for several days the GPS mouse desperately needed some clear and steady view on the satellites. I tied it up to my glove, but while skiing, it had a hard time to find those satellites. Eventually it discovered it place on earth while we were taking one of nice and steady the ski-lifts up the slopes. Finally I could determine the whopping speed we reached going downhill: 26mph! Of course, because the J2ME app was configured to only sent updates to the server every 60 seconds it missed the moments when we reached our top speeds 🙂

Ski GPS Points

Any other practical uses for this? OpenGTS out of the box makes it possible to track whole fleeds of devices. For personal use you could use it to record you favorite cycling, skeeler, hiking routes... and while your doing this the whole world could see where you are: simply point GoogleMaps or GoogleEarth to the URL of the provided Events webapp.

Unfortunately the Google satellite images are not season specific, so you'll have to imagine the snow yourself.