DEVELOPMENT OF A WIRELESS ARCHITECTURE FOR DIGITAL FIELD GEOLOGY TOOLS
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.