This DIY Geocaching Bracelet Shows The Power Of Wearables

Geocaching is a fun activity that involves finding little things hidden in the real world. The kids and I try to do it when we travel and we usually end up circling a bush for a few minutes before we all go and get ice cream. However, if you’re Greg Mayer you get down and dirty and create a crazy watch that can point you to distant GPS coordinates like some sort of computerized Mercury leading you into high adventure.

Like the DIY cellphone we talked about this week, this device is made of off-the-shelf components and can be recreated at will. It cost about $60 to build and required a bit of coding.

The idea to create this little contraption came from my Geocaching adventures with my nieces and nephew: my little device currently tells me where a dozen or so caches are located in Windsor, Ontario, but I’ve also configured it to point me towards coffee shops and other places closer to where I live.Each light in the device corresponds to a target within 1 km of my current location. Notice that as I rotate, the lights hold their approximate directions of the targets. Red indicates close, blue indicates very far away.

Simple projects like this one are truly inspiring. While we’re all fussing around with smartphones, the idea that we can create standalone, single-purpose devices for various uses – navigation, notification, and the like – is fascinating. And, while this device is obviously very fiddly, it’s clear that this hardware can be stuffed inside a smaller case in order to a create a truly self-contained navigation system.

This is the first of a new class of digital accessories – devices that aren’t that smart but work quite well for a specific purpose. As jewelry companies and other makers get in on the act, expect to see smart devices hidden inside stuff that used to be dumb.