2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


FULLER, Eric1, HUTCHISON, William E.2, NGUYEN, HongLinh Q.1, AKCIZ, Sinan O.2, CARR, Christopher3, HODGES, Kip V.2 and BURCHFIEL, B. Clark2, (1)Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, (2)Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, (3)Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, efull@mit.edu

The distinctive technical achievement of the Digital Field Geology (DFG) system under development at MIT (see Hutchison et al.) will be its implementation of small, low power, wirelessly connected geologic tools in the field. The use of wireless tools will closely emulate and complement typical fieldwork processes and, furthermore, will eliminate unnecessary and restrictive cords and wires. More importantly, the wireless nature of the DFG system will enable field camp students to better focus their efforts on the scientific aspects of geologic field work rather than the administrative tasks inherent in the learning process.

The DFG system's architecture will be a distributed design in which large-scale data processing and storage functions will be assigned to a "local data server" (perhaps worn in a backpack). This server will communicate both with wireless tools carried by the field geologist or with a "remote unit", perhaps kept at a base camp. Wireless tools would include 1) a handheld, digital "notebook" which would be used to record numerous types of field data, as well as for the display of topographic maps, text, and pictures (currently, a Compaq PDA); 2) an electronic geologists' compass, for digitally recording orientation data; and 3) a wirelessly connected digital camera for linking field photos with map locations.

By distributing the greater processing power and storage functions to remote units, these network links could provide vast amounts of data and reference materials to each student in the field without the corresponding burden in weight and size. Additional advantages of the DFG's architecture are its inherently greater flexibility and the fact that the number of associated wireless instruments is not necessarily limited.

We have already conducted an initial test of the DFG system during our January 2002 field camp (see Niemi et al.). While the results of this test were generally favorable, we still have much more work to do. Two important capabilities that we would like to add by next January's field camp are the ability to translate voice recordings to text with voice recognition software and the ability to wirelessly transfer images from a digital camera to out digital notebook.