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— urbantick

Tag "GPS tracks"
This week at the Institut Architektur at FHNW we started new fieldwork for a GPS tracking project in Basel, Switzerland. Earlier the UrbanDiary project already tracked individuals everyday movements in the same urban context. See HERE and HERE for posts. With the new project the perspective is still on movement in the urban context, but the motivation is very different. Whilst the travel in the earlier project was guided by a handful of personally important hotspot locations business connections guide the routing in the KurierT project. The trackers are carried by the professional bicycle messengers of the KurierZentrale Basel. What we are looking at are business connections and how they link across the city.

Image taken from KurierZentrale / Bicycle messenger in action.

The bicycle couriers are probably the jguys with the best local knowledge there are to be found for any city. From their daily experience of navigating the streets and blocks specific non physical aspects are expected to influence the decision making process. This includes traffic, terrain, season or weather maybe. As part of this project we are planning to look into these influencing aspects.

On the other hand another interest is on how the service the couriers provide describes the city. In many ways the activity of delivering mail between different locations creates a network of connections. This describes the city in terms of links. Beyond the locations of the sender and receiver, the interesting part is in how this connection physically manifests in an optimised routing provided by the courier. As part of the project the aim is to develop these relationships into a descriptive atlas of the city linking the aspects of a social network to the physical conditions of the link.


Image by urbanTick for KurierT / Routing around Basel showing the tracks of one courier over two days. Software used Cartogaphica.

The couriers offer a range of services. Whilst most of the jobs are small parcels and letters between different businesses in the city, there are jobs in the wider region of Basel or heavier loads for which the couriers change from bicycle to a car. Beside the business services the couriers have a meal service over lunch and in the evening around dinner time. From a selections of restaurants in the city meals can be ordered and get them delivered.

This combination of business and private services makes the data collected ver rich in that we not only have a picture of the business contacts but also see a shift in activities and cover residential areas. This extended business model covers more areas in the city and the expected black spots in the urban fragment not covered by the couriers’ movements are dramatically reduced. The resulting overview covers a very particular perspective on the city and generalisation is limited, but within the particular setting the results are expected to provide valuable insight in urban connections, urban networks and routing. In terms of planning this has practical application for example in the provision of cycle routes for the general public.


Image by urbanTick for KurierT / Routing around Basel showing the tracks of one courier over two days. The tracks are coloured according to speed. Red is slow and white is fast, above 30. The background shows a point density indicating locations and high traffic areas. Software used Cartogaphica.

The temporal aspect of traveling the city is particularly part of the bicycle messenger daily business. Besides safely getting from A to B the speed of delivery is crucial and directly influences not only the customer satisfaction but the daily salary of the rider. From a research perspective these constraints are interesting as to how accessible the different areas of the city actually are. The data will be analysed towards the time cost of travel from a whole range of origins. Based on speed and and travel time the results can be summarised in a time zone map of the city, indicating accessibility.

Ultimately the results are expected to feed into a description of urban space. This description will be focused towards physical quality and identity of place. In comparison to existing political defined neighbourhoods the results form this study are expected to lead to an alternative description of urban areas based on connection and time.

The project is developed in collaboration with the Institut Vermessung und Geoinformation. For the analysis one of the tools developed at the institute called See You will be used. The online GIS system analyses GPS tracks based on point density and stationary time. The GPS tracks are interpreted as heat map and hotspots are marked by the system based on the analysis of stationary time. These can be filtered based on duration. In the example below for example the no 1 (bottom of the picture) identifies the location of the KurierZentrale offices as the most important location of the map. The riders start from here and return back to after the shift.


Image by urbanTick for KurierT / Routing around Basel showing the tracks of one courier over two days. The online GIS service SeeYou developed by the Institut Vermessung und Geoinformation at FHNW is used for the visualisation. Tracks shown as a heat map. As background the OSM service is used. The numbers highlight important locations as interpreted by the system automatically.

The project runs over the next couple of month and results will be posted along the way. A report is expected towards the end of the year. Continuous updates will be posted here, so stay tuned. A detailed project desription can be found online at the Institut Architektur.

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The biannual conference of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) is this year the 14th National Conference on Planning History being held in Baltimore MD.

The Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) is an interdisciplinary organisation dedicated to promoting scholarship on the planning of cities and metropolitan regions over time, and to bridging the gap between the scholarly study of cities and the practice of urban planning.

Berlin Badeschiff
Image taken from the Baltimore Architecture Foundation / The Inner Harbor, before Charles Center & Harborplace.

I will be presenting a paper on The City in Time and Space drawing on the research work undertaken with the urbanDiary project using GPS-tracking, interviews and mental maps. The paper is part of the session 49 with the overall title Seeing Time: Urban Paces and Building Cycles it will be chaired by Philip J. Ethington, Professor of History at University of Southern California and the initiator of the HyperCities project.

Other presenters in the session are Sandra Parvu, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris on Time Perceptions in Neighborhoods Undergoing Demolition, Francesca Ammon, Yale University on Progress in Progress: The Representation and Experience of Postwar Building Demolition and Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, The New School on Seeing the Human City: A Visual and Value-Rich Urbanism.

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Vienna the city at the Donau is rediscovering itself. After decades directly at the iron curtan the city has begun to reestablish and revitalise its former vital connections deep into Eastern Europe.

Between 1945 and the end of the Cold War in 1989 Vienna was effectively cut of its pulsing backcountry in the East. It was the Capital at the Eastern border of Europe surviving on one way connections shrinking from a population of over 2 million in 1910 to about 1.5 million in the 80s and 90s. It has grown since again together with this slow recovery to about 1.7 million.

I am currently in Vienna with a group of Students discovering the city and the intertwined urbanisation and planning processes, with a special focus on the Guertel in Vienna. This incredible resilience, to use an at the moment definitely overused word, of the urban structure to survive and at the same time develop quality during such a long time span of usage and input starvation is incredibly fascinating. It can be a great example of how durable and versatile urban morphology can be, actually has to be and visualises at exempla the meaning of cross generation investment on the level of society.

However it is also clear that this is not achieved only through the form or morphology good architecture or any other single discipline, but is a success proving the resilience of the city as a whole.

24 hours of taxi movement in Vienna
Image taken from Sense of Pattern / One day of taxi movement in the Vienna region. The active spotin the bottom South-East corner is the airport.

Interesting insight in this respect of course provide the visualisation of flows and movement. How is the morphology, the urban structure being navigated, used and interpreted for everyday busynesses? How easy is it for the wider public to access and interact with the city? Those are indicators showing the direct interadaptebility and everyday flexibility of the city in exchange with the citizens.

Taxi data has allowed to visualise these commuting movement pattern to be visualised on the scale of the city, providing a glimps of the hustle and bustle of Vienna over 24 hours. The project Sense of Pattern is continously developed by Mahir M. Yavuz, initially at the Austrian Institute of Technology and is rendered and visualised using processing and some python. The dat was provided by AIT.

4 commuters in Vienna
Image taken from Sense of Pattern / Four different types of commuters out of the data heap. This data was collected over the period of five weeks focusing on just four individuals.

In a series of approaches Yavuz works different aspects in to the focus of the visualisation. This being the sheer volume and the busyness in one, but being the typology and the character of a few in others. This is not providing a final picture but it is painting the characteristics while managing to play the scales and dimensions freely.

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Nike is one of the very big brands managing to cleverly connect to their customers through both very good marketing and a product range always catching and inspiring the trends. So they were very early to offer an iPod extension to connect their sport equipment with a lifestyle gadget.

Since these early days of the Nike iPod marriage a lot has changed, but the basics are stil, you can listen to your favorite music and mange your training data. Nike+ offers a platform for managing the training data based on distance, pace and route and track performance over time. It also comes as an app for the iPhone including the GPS tracking.

1000 New York Nike+ runs
Image taken from cargoCollective / The 1000 runs of New York as a sample of Nike+ training data. The activity data redraws the geography of Manhattan including many of the streets.

Cooper Smith, a interaction designer, worked with a 1000 runs taken from the Nike+ data store and produced a series of amazing graphics focusing on New York. What he is working with is really the GPS tracks and the contained time and location data. He has been using the Google Refine for data cleaning and processing for the visualisations.

The data nicely draws out the geography of New York, especially Manhattan and shows a runners map of NY of sort. It is an individuals map with a collective presentation of spatial activity. Different patterns are showing as Smith is experimenting with different visualisation and processing parameters.

1000 New York Nike+ runs
Image taken from cargoCollective / Smith explains the distance parameters: “Not surprisingly, longer runs tended to be more prevalent in areas that runners could get to stretches of uninterrupted running trails, such as Central Park, the bridges, and the West Side Highway. Landlocked areas where trails are replaced by streets tended to see much shorter runs. I was surprised to see that most of the runs originating from the Upper East Side and Upper West Side were short runs, given their proximity to Central Park. It appears that people who begin their runs in Central Park tend to go for longer runs, while those who start outside of Central Park and run into it tend to go for shorter runs”.

The full animation of the data shows the patterns over a 24 hour period, superimposing the tracks in time. There seems to be more activity after work, but already in the morning is quite a peak. Nevertheless NY seems to be running all day. At least this was the picture back in autumn 2010.

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Inspired by Tim Knowles’ work on postal tracking as well as the publication “The Englishman who posted himself“, this had to be tried. Maybe one should not try this at home, however, we did. This project is run in collaboration with Studio-Bread in Vienna.

The tracker was sent from London to Vienna, where it arrived after many days, too many days actually. The battery was dead, but the tracker alive. And to much surprise it actually contained data. It did record for the time siting around various Royal Mail London sorting centres.

Image by urbanTick / GPS and parcel as used on the way from London to Vienna. Parcel created by Studio-Bread.

It came back from Vienna in a much more sophisticated little box, faster and with more data. Some places in Vienna, including the airport and presumably a postal sorting centre. And, one is stunned Royal Mail is organised to this extend, on the way back the tracker asses the same sorting centres. From Heathrow back in to London where it sits at the Clerkenwell sorting centre again.

Google Earth embedded, linking to a KML file. You can use the time slider to track the parcel. You can manually adjust the time window. Active tracks are shown in bright yellow rest is faded out. Zoom in to see the locations in detail. You can make your own Google Gadget HERE.

Apparently “Mount Pleasant is one of the world’s largest sorting offices, covering an area of 7.5 acres. It’s home to an expansive set of 23 miles of train tunnels which were built to deliver the post and did so up until May 2003. Though the railway is no longer used the tunnels, running 70 feet under the streets of central London between Whitechapel and Paddington, still remain. There are no visitors allowed” from LondonTown.

Royal Mail Sorting Office
Image taken from Londontown / Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office (Clerks working in the Return Letter Office, Mount Pleasant, 1934).

Since this is not much here is a more inspiring clip as it was mentioned by radek in a comment on the last postal tracking post on this blog – thanks for the link again.

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Some new data has com in from the GPS tracking project in Basel, Switzerland. Earlier a first group was blogged as ‘Urbandiary Comparison Study‘ where we looked at the region and in ‘Stadtraum – UrbanDiary‘ the focus was on the interaction area between participant and the city.

Image by urbantick for urbanDiary / Basel-Stadt view, plotting all participants GPS track locations. Plotted using cartographica using Bing Maps in the background.

With the new data the focus shifts towards the individual movement in the urban area. This is in a next step also the unit that will be comparable to the existing urbanDiary London data sets.

Image by urbantick for urbanDiary / Grossbaselview, plotting a single participant’s locations. Plotted using cartographica using Bing Maps in the background.

Of much interest is of course the temporal structure of the everyday rhythm. The earlier London data was visualised as a graph plotted the number of track points per hour. This represented the amount of activity per each hour in 24 hour day. The resulting graph fitted well with the expected pattern, higlighting the rush hours, the lunch brake as well as elements of weekend activities following a different time structure. Examples HERE and updated HERE.

Image by urbantick for urbanDiary / Distance-Time graph over 24 hours linear single participants. Plotted using DataGraph.

The strategy to visualise the Basel data in a similar graph has been changed a bit in order to create a stronger contextual sense. The Basel graphs are not based on number of track points, but on distance traveled from home. The home location is assumed to be a sort of start and end location in this case.

The graphs therefor trace the ebb and flows of the movement from and to home. On the way different activities paint the patterns and reoccurring activities enforce their pattern.

Image by urbantick for urbanDiary / Distance-Time graph over 24 hours circular single participant. The 24 hours are here visualised around the circle, clockwise, with the distance plotted radial. Plotted using DataGraph and wound in photoshop – cheating I know but I needed a quick fix.

For the working week the distance starts to increase just after seven as participants leave the house to travel to work. Generally the distance then stays more or less the same through out the day, sometimes with a little bit of movement around the lunch time brake. In the evening the distance changes again until it is back to zero as the participants get back home.

However, the evening is compared to the morning a lot less precise. The morning fits across the sample into a timeframe of around one hour. The evenings are more divers and different activities take place opening a timeframe of up to four hours. This will need some more analysis in terms of how this timeframe divides into different activities and how it is structured. Maybe it is dominated by work activities and if there is more work people stay longer or there are groups of after work activities, such as fitness, shopping, socialising, and so on. Together with the interviews and the schedules it should be possible to entangle the structure.

Image by urbantick for urbanDiary / Distance-Time graph over 24 hours circular multiple participants. The 24 hours are here visualised around the circle, clockwise, with the distance plotted radial. Plotted using DataGraph and wound in photoshop – cheating I know but I needed a quick fix.

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The end of a calendar year has become the time for summing up and reviewing. In terms of tracking this is what a few of us also ave done and presented the track recordings of the closing 2010. So where have you been all these days?

In the past few years more and more people are recording their movements using different methods, mostly GPS devices. With the new smart phone with built in GPS this has become even easier. Numerous apps are now out there helping you to record organise and visualise your movements.

Three guys, Andy Woodruff over at Cartogrammar and Eric Fischer who is the creator of the citie maps based on the geo taged images on flickr and picasa and Achim Tack have been dedicated to record all the 2010 trips and visualise them on a map.

Personal geography of 2010Image taken from Eric Fischer on flickr / Personal geography of 2010. How big is your world?

Eric has coded his trips using a colour code for modes of transport. Very similar to the coding he used for the photo mapping project. So it goes like this: “black is walking, red is bicycling, blue is cars or buses, and green is above-ground rapid transit or freeways”. He points out that tunnels are not shown.

It is quite interesting how the red and blue, the bicycle and the car, over lap and almost match. Would be interesting to know if he also used the same automatic mode of transport detection based on speed as he did for the photo mapping project.

Eric is traveling around San Francisco on both sides of the bay area. Here is the corresponding NCL twitter map.

2010 tracks with intensityImage taken from Andy Woodruff on flickr / 2010 tracks with intensity. More yellow = more frequently traveled.

Andy is doing this very low key by hand. Of course many, including myself have suggested to him to start using a GPS unit. But he continues to resist and manually retrace his steps as a sort of summary of the day.

Interesting also his motivation “The most valuable thing about this habit, though, is not the post-mapping analysis but rather the motivation it generates to get out and explore and get to know new parts of the city. I’m sure you can imagine the thrill of getting to draw a line on a new part of the map”.

Andy also has recorded the modes of transport on his drawings. Here are the maps by type.

2010 tracks by mode of transportation
Image taken from Andy Woodruff on flickr / 2010 tracks by mode of transportation.

Unfortunately we havent got a NCL twitter map of Boston yet but we are working on it.

Achim is also using a GPS device, a Holux GPSort 245 (we would be interested to hear his experiences with this one), since his move to Hamburg earlier this year and has ever since recorded his everyday moves.

The colour coding here is also according to mode of transport automatically detected via speed, done using arcGIS.

His interest lies more on the repetitive patterns and this is also how he has coded the maps. He notes: “Thursday I go to the gym (Donnerstags gehe ich ins Fitness)” / “I take the bus no 120 to go to work (Ich nehme den Bus 120 zur Arbeit)”

Here is for example a map of his Weekend trips:

The presentation using zoom.it is pretty neat and allows for details to be explored. It works like the imageCutter software that was used for the NCL maps and the twitter social networks. More on Achims paths on his blog.

My own track record has a different cycle, it starts in autumn. The lates map is from October 2009 to October 2010. This year the map shows a comparison between the previous year and the most recent year. However mode of transport is not represented.

oneYearLND09-10 London
Image by urbanTick / London overview of the 2010 GPS track record. A one year drawing of movement on a daily basis, recording all activities and trips. For a large version click HERE.

The NCL London map is available HERE and the corresponding twitter social network HERE.

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It is one more year since the last summary of personal tracking was posted. This year it is a consistant 405 tracking record as compared to a mixed device record the previous year. This matters in so far as the 405 performs very well and the data processing job is a simpler for the cleaning part. The down side is that it is slower for the processing part since there are very detailed records with loads of points. THe previeous year can be found at Plymouth365 and oneYearLND_2009.

oneYearLND09-10 London
Image by urbanTick / London overview of the 2010 GPS track record. A one year drawing of movement on a daily basis, recording all activities and trips. For a large version click HERE.

The map also shows the previous year in green, since there is a striking similarity and in order to highlight the differences this seemed to make sense. The similarity goes as far as the two records being more or less the same. I expected a similarity, but not to this extend.

There are differences only on a very small scale. There is one major change in routine that dominates the differences between the two years. My son has started school and the trips to the nursery near the work place have been substituted by trip to drop of or pick him up at the school near our home. This changes the spatial practice and with it the pattern. However it is not as obvious since the directions of movement stayed more or less the same.

Image by urbanTick / London Bloomsbury zoom of the 2010 GPS track record. A one year drawing of movement on a daily basis, recording all activities and trips.

To update the zoom in to the leisure area around Regents Park here is an updated version showing the different visits to ZSL. In 2010 there appear definitely a shift in interest focus. Never been to Australia this year.

As pointed out in last years post, the capacity to recall events using the lines as memory triggers works very well. I can basically over the whole year piece together my steps. Being this for example in the bottom left corner some of these trips to the Natural History Museum, Royal Geographical Society or in Hyde Part visits the Diana Memorial.

Image by urbanTick / London Regents Park zoom of the 2010 GPS track record. A one year drawing of movement on a daily basis, recording all activities and trips.

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Mobile Action have introduced the third generation of their GPS logger series iGotU. Alongside the GT-120 and the GT-200/e there is now newly available the GT-600.
It is however in the tradition of the 200e larger than the GT-120 which really is tiny. However it boosts more storage, it is up from 16MB to 64mb and now also has a motion sensor. This was in earlier version of the 200 available but discontinued. It is back now with this new product.

Image by urbanTick / the all new GT-600 including accessories as you will find it in the shop.

More storage is great and with 262’000 points you will not run out of memory any time soon. This is up from about 65’000 points with the GT-120. So it’s a lot more storage space and is suitable for long trips with infrequent access to a computer to download the data.

The other improvement that the new product brings is the battery. Instead of a 230mAh Lithium-ion battery that the GT-120 has, it has a 750mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. This probably also partly explains the slightly large dimension of the GT-600. A longer lasting battery is of course very much appreciated by every user, since this provides the freedom to stay out just this little bit longer.

Not only the battery life has improved, but also the GT-600 is now able to manage its sleep wake time automatically. It has got a Motion Sensor built in, hence the ‘MD’ sign on the device. With this technology the device is able to distinguish between time of motion and times of rest. If it doe not move, it automatically goes into sleep mode to save energy. It will of course also wake up if movement is detected and automatically starts recording again.

This automatic battery management system is believed to improve the battery live dramatically. This would be about 80hours at a log interval of 15 seconds. So in this sense last for a 10 day trip. And certainly this will be good enough. Compared to for example some of the Garmin products, reviewed a 405 HERE, or a 201 HERE, where a Forerunner 405 last only for about eight hours. Of course this is a tricky comparison since the two products do completely different things and the Garmins for example all have a display which the iGotU series doesn’t have. This is only to say that for the purpose of simply logging location data this iGotU GT-600 tool is perfect.

Lets have a quick look at how the GT-600’s SiRF StarIII 65nm GPS chipset performs. Actually all the three iGotU devices are using the same low power chipset and it can be said that it works pretty well. Give that central London is a tricky location for GPS devices the results are very good. There are here and there some glitches and stay points as we are used to from using for example a Foretrex 201, but that really depends on the terrain and environment.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 draws the ORANGE line as compared to the Forerunner 405 drawing the WHITE line. It can be a little bit noisier at times, especially if not switched off indoors as it keeps trying to record something.

In comparison to the Forerunner 405 (WHITE line) which manages inner city locations extremely well the GT-600 (ORANGE line) draws nice lines and at time even better than the 405. It depends really on the location and how it is held or worn. If used on the bike, attached to the handlebar makes for a really good reception, but even in the bad or pocket it perform very well.

In case it becomes necessary, depending on the use, the track can be easily edited using either the mobile action package or other free software available on the internet, for example directly in Google Earth.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 draws the ORANGE line as compared to the Forerunner 405 drawing the WHITE line. Here the Orange line is actually more accurate than the 405. It was used on the handle bar of the LikeABike in this case.

The data handling and device setup is managed thought he PC suite provided by Mobile Action. No setting other than on/off can be handled directly by the device. This simplifies the whole process, but of course puts a lot of pressure on the desktop software. It is easier, though to navigate on a large screen and manage the different settings than it is on a small screen directly on the device. However changes on the go are not possible. Also the software only really supports Windows machines unfortunately leaves all the mac users unsupported. There is an open source project on launchpad that will enable mac users to load and delete data from the device. You can download the igotu2gps version 0.3.0 HERE. However, it can not change any of the device settings, so is only really for the simple data management. For a lot of users this will be good enough and they can just leave the settings be the factory defaults.

The GT-600 comes out of the box with general factory settings that will allow the user to start logging straight away. This is really useful and given the simple device user interface, one button and two colour LEDs, one literally can start logging while walking out of the shop. The box also contains the USB cable that connects the device to the computer and is at the same time the cable to charge the GT-600. As with previous models the 600 also comes with a silicone case, now transparent instead of the previous characteristic blue case, and a very basic strap to attache the device to something or even wear it around the wrist. A note on the case. Given the flexibility of the material and the larger size the device does not sit as tight as the smaller brother GT-120. I got it caught in the bad and the bus door and the case slid of the actual unit. Generally though it works perfect and give it a good grip for the handling of the unit.

To conclude on this very exciting new GPS logger as the latest one in the Mobile Action iGotU series, the GT-600 is definitely one of the very few GPS units of choice for travel and location loggers. The large storage and the dramatically improved batterie life combined with the Motion Detection technology will serve you very well on any trip. The one button to save waypoints or the location of a photograph is as simple as it gets to use and will help to organise and arrange your photo collection after the trip. If you start using it you will probably find yourself tracking constantly and not only for trips it is really interesting to review the record of movement one does even day to day. With this you can start your log book today.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 with cable.

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The two GPS units provided by Garmin are now in use for the UrbanDiary project for one ful year and this seems a good point to follow it up with a review of the use and performance of the device. This is a follow up from the first test review published on urbanTick a year ago. Since then 365+ days have elapsed and we are still going.
And really to take it up front, the performance is through out impressive and completely positive. The few minor points we’ll be talking about later on, but for the most of it both units performed perfect every day year through out the seasons. This is a great result.
Since they arrived back in April 2009 they were in use every day for the whole day. This puts them to a usage time of some 200’000 minutes. During this time the have collected some 800,000 track points with time-space information for the UrbanDiary project.
The UrbanDiary project is run by urbanTick and is an investigation to record the spatial extension of everyday persona routines in the city. The two 405 units have been used for a longtime study. Two participants used them for the whole year to track their movement.

Image by urbanTIck for urbanDiary / GPS tracking over one year by two participants. Person a is covering in pink the western end of the map and person b is moving around central and north London.

For the previous review the comparison of the Foretrex 201 was used. This proved to be not really comparable, since the forerunner 405 performed so much better. This time we could use the iPhone or a like to compare. To be honest, this, even though we tried it, is nothing you want to do for a whole year. Tracking with the 405 on your wrist is such a convenient thing to do, after two days you forget that it is there. Apart from a slightly paler tan around your wrist in summer there are no longterm complications.
The satellite reception is through out very good with little errors in the resulting records. In fact only a handfull of points needed manual corrections out of the 800,000 records in the database. Here in London there are a particular locations were a signal is weak or lost. For example on the DLR it is even for the 405 difficult and most of the time impossible to get a decent signal due to the glass used in the carriages that prevent the satellite signal to penetrate.
One of the points of critique is the Bezel, the main input element on the device. It touch sensitive navigation is not without hicks and there is nothing more annoying than having this creepy feeling of a tool not responding the way it is intended to. This is to say that the technology works very well, but the few hangs and glitches are probably more annoying than anything else. Occasionally the Bezel will simply not register anything. Not sure if this is connected to wet, or cold fingers, but usually locking and unlocking the device will help with this. The second point is the missing feedback from this method of input. Having a click or any tactile and audio respons would improve the experience quite a bit.
A second point of critic should be on how the device handles the information. There is no option to delete something or manage the data directly on the device. This can only be done via the desktop software. More importantly the device does not inform about the state of the internal storage. So no clue give if the storage is full and worse the device simply starts overwriting the old information. So one has to be careful and regularly sync. And this regularity depends on the activity. If you are out for a week on a tour and recording everyday most of the day, more frequent syncing is required compared to a normal working week where you could probably go for the whole seven days without syncing.
Over this quite long period obviously the bodys of the watches have taken a few hits and this is now visible as scratches and marks. This is again mainly the Bezel that shows most of the markings. There is a exposed kerb around the display and this is where the hits go. As a result this area is partly black instead of the initial golden colour. There are two three scratches o the rest of the plastic body but they are less prominent even though larger. The material copes well with it. Also the actual wrist band looks pretty good, probably not like new, but there are no sweat marks as one might expect.
The second important point of critique is the battery life. This is not really the devices fault. The longterm performance of the battery, in fact is very good, with no sign of earlier battery drain after a continuos usage for a whole year of using and charging every day. And this is the point, the device needs charging every day. It has out of the box an about 8 hours battery life. It would be nice if this could be longer. For now to use it continuously one has to addable the habit of plug in every night. The charging time however is impressively quick. One hour is good, two hours wil probably fill it. And you’ll have it filled up 100% under three hours. The USB charger has the benefit of working with your computer or laptop, so there is never far to go to charge it. For outdoor usage in this post the use of the 405 with the freeoaderPro solar charger was reviewed. It is a realy good solution for when you are on the road and the weather is nice.

Image by urbanTick / The two devices after constant use for one year, every day, all day.

Regarding the buttons, for one there is the missing power button to mention. I still kind of think this would be something to have. Probably mainly because it needs the charging essentially. It is designed as a watch and no one turns the watch off before they go to bed, but I guess this is one of the points were it doesn’t quite work out to be two things at once. I woud like to turn the thing off, preserving battery and starting it up, with a ful battery, as I need it, the next morning. Currently it turns off if the battery is dead and it turn straight on while charged. It has to be said on is usually sleep mode, e.g. displaying the time. We have also debated weather the option to turn on the satellite reception is a needed option? In the context of the UrbanDiary project there was no use of the device without the GPS, tracking is required constantly. For other uses however, there might be a benefit to being able to preserve battery, if you are training at the gym for example. The way to handle it in our case is not to touch the satellite setting, but to start-stop the timer. Stop the timer will put the device in sleep mode after one minute, turning on the timer wil prompt the device to lock to the available satellites, as simple as that – almost a power button.
The design is very simple and quiet. Not a product to attract too much attention for its shape or colour. It fits for everyday use, however it is sort of a cross mix that is a bit undecided. In the long run one might wish it were a tick more distinct. But this is maybe a personal preference for subtile statements. On the other hand the design cleverly conceals the rel size and clunkyness of the thing. I have voted for the green model back then and still would, the black model seems to hard to me, but I am aware that a lot of people prefer it. Maybe an extended colour palet with dark red and a yellowish-orange would be something. Maybe for an urbanTick special edition?

To sum up, as already stated in the introduction the Garmin forerunner 405 is a really great tool and performs to a standart of its own. The price is high, for a full set between £280-300, but this is in the long run very well invested. If you are tracking and able to charge it frequently this is the tool for you. Lets see how it goes in the second year with different participants.

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