The increase in demand by travellers for digital maps has been a game changer in the mapping industry. Whilst digital mapping and real-time GPS navigation has been around for at least 10 years, this has really only been successful for enthusiasts with a high degree of technical competence.
For a while the use of handheld GPS units with inbuilt mapping became a popular option for people who didn't want to mess about with complicated software and map files, however the problem with these mapping GPS units is the limited screen size, and the restricted map availability - with Garmin, Navman, Magellan etc all restricted to use of proprietary maps. By locking out the ability to use the more popular Australian digital maps such as EOTopo
and Hema maps
, enthusiast travellers have mostly abandoned these GPS units.
When Hema released their HN series navigators (HN5, HN6, HN7), consumers were quick to embrace this device. With inbuilt mapping software it is an all-in-one mapping and navigation device that includes Hema maps
, as well as Street Level mapping. When we released our EOTopo mapset
people were quick to install the EOTopo200K whole of Australia
maps into the HN7 so we eventually partnered with Hema to produce an exclusive HN7 - EOTopo Edition
for our market. However as time has moved along and mobile technology has developed, an obvious limitation to this device has become apparent. The cost and the perceived value for money of the HN7 device is now questionable given the device is not internet capable.
The widespread popularity of smartphones, iPads, and Android tablet computers has meant that many travellers now carry such a device for their general communications. Most of these devices include internet and GPS capability, so they are seen as a popular solution for an all-in-one mapping/navigation system, however the two most popular digital map providers (Hema and ExplorOz) took a little time to find a solution for providing their maps to the iOS devices (iPad/iPhone).
Hema released the Hema Explorer App and ExplorOz partnered with Memory-Map to provide a propriety version of the EOTopo mapset so that Memory-Map users could access their mapsets through this app. For iOS users, this was initially the only way to access EOTopo maps. Later, we were able to provide the EOTopo maps in the MMR file format (via download only) which also enabled EOTopo to be used in iOS devices through the Mud Map app.
Obviously, our preferred solution is to directly service our own customers without the need for third-party software so we have recently launched our own all-in-one mapping and navigation app that is compatible for both iOS and Android devices and provides both online and offline EOTopo maps, tracking, trek notes
, and clever features utilising the latest technologies and resources available through the ExplorOz website and community sharing tools.
ExplorOz is backed by its own in-house developer David Martin, who is an expert in web technology, app development, e-commerce, and user profile management. There are significant advantages and features for ExplorOz Traveller App
users with access to the ExplorOz website resources and profile management tools
and most importantly the ability sync and refresh data between the app and the website. The ExplorOz Traveller app
brings together the largest online community of enthusiast outback travellers where data sharing is at the core of the ExplorOz community experience.