Geocaching is the most popular GPS-based outdoor game in the world with over one million players scattered across the globe. Using a GPS handheld, players hide and find geocaches, which come in a variety of sizes and are easily (and often cleverly) disguised. The game's players traditionally log the coordinates of these caches and mark their finds on geocaching.com - however all of that is about to change.
Garmin, a leader in GPS technology, has just launched OpenCaching.com to compete with geocaching.com, which is maintained by Groundspeak. A key difference between the sites is that Garmin does not ask for a yearly fee. This will drive many users to at least try out the service, if not abandon their paid accounts on geocaching.com altogether.
This seemingly surprise announcement from Garmin is not that surprising at all. In October of 2010 Garmin brought out a wireless geocaching beacon called the chirp. This was the first foray into geocaching accessories for Garmin, and it went over spectacularly with the geocaching community.
The chirp sends out a signal which can be retrieved by any one of Garmin's wireless-enabled units. The message contained in the chirp can give hints to the whereabouts of the cache, can give multicache coordinates, and also counts the number of visitors to that cache.
GPS City set up an account on OpenCaching.com and found the process very user-friendly. Open Caching allows users to rate their cache for overall difficulty, size of cache, awesomeness and terrain navigation. As the website just went public in early December, there weren't many caches. GPS City was able to deem theirs the first in Calgary, AB. The concentration of caches was larger in many areas of the US, however given the FREE status of the website those numbers should dramatically increase.