National parks are turning into ‘The Truman Show’ with GPS tracking of visiting humans

national parks are turning into the truman show with gps tracking of visiting humans 2014 dodge dart full 1500x1000
To live your very own version of The Truman Show, look no further than certain national parks, where some scientists are now tracking the two-legged species that wander their grounds. Effectively making you a participant in a non-violent, voluntary version of the Hunger Games (though since it’s voluntary it’s very much not the Hunger Games), this new GPS tracking system is meant to help park officials determine how humans affect the natural ecosystem and also to help them make strategic decisions about park improvement.

Initially, only two national parks, the Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite National Park, were participating in the practice, but Grand Teton National Park is the latest to join with the help of researchers from Penn State University and Utah State University. Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs told the Associated Press, “It’s going to help us better understand the expectations, the motivations and then the ultimate experiences that people have.”

People seem largely open to the notion of being tracked as they explore the natural beauty of the parks, with between 80 and 90 percent of those asked accepting the light burden of carrying around a GPS receiver on their journeys. In fact, researchers said, people have been relishing the opportunity to make a positive impact on parks, with Peter Newman, a professor in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, noting, “People love their parks. They love to answer questions and know that their voice is being heard in some way.”

Using the data collected from these GPS’s, researchers can determine whether and where to add parking lots, restrooms, and even additional trails in congested areas. Officials should be able to see precisely which trails are the most popular, and to learn how people choose to spend their time in the great outdoors.

“It’s getting people to the right place at the right time,” Kevin Heaslip, a Virginia Tech professor, told the AP, “so they have a better experience while they’re at the park.” And for most people, if that means being GPS-tracked for awhile, that’s a perfectly fine trade-off.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Scientists successfully grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish

Researchers have managed to grow human blood vessels in a Petri dish for the first time, and even to successfully implant them into live mice. The results could be a game-changer for diabetes.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Tiny microbots fold like origami to travel through the human body

Tiny robots modeled after bacteria could be used to deliver drugs to hard to reach areas of the human body. Scientists have developed elastic microbots that can change their shape depending on their environment.
Emerging Tech

Dinosaurs never stood a chance after asteroid impacts doubled 290M years ago

The number of asteroids pummeling Earth jumped dramatically around 290 million years ago. By looking at Moon craters, scientists discovered that d the number of asteroid impacts on both Earth and the Moon increased by two to three times.
Emerging Tech

Saturn didn’t always have rings, according to new analysis of Cassini data

Saturn's rings are younger than previously believed, according to new data gathered from the Cassini mission. The rings are certainly less than 100 million years old and perhaps as young as 10 million years old.
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.