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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 15:37 GMT
Study seeks hi-tech mountaineers
The Braemar Mountain Rescue team at work
Mountains can prove to be dangerous places
The safety benefits of 3D mountain guides for climbers and hillwalkers are to be put to the test.

A project will examine how technology can be used to understand and navigate potentially hazardous environments.

Geovisualisation software which runs on PCs, laptops and portable computers will be compared to Ordnance survey maps when assessing terrain.

University of Aberdeen and the Macaulay Institute researchers are seeking volunteers for the year-long study.

The Geovisualisation software allows three-dimensional representations of mountainous terrain to be created, be inspected and manipulated on computer screens.

Expanding technology

While conventional maps require a walker to interpret contour lines in order to estimate the height or gradient of a particular route, the software allows information to be viewed directly using an animated computer model of the same section of terrain.

Dr David Pearson, of the university's school of psychology, is leading the pioneering study.

He said: "The aim of the project is to compare the effectiveness of 3D computer models as planning and navigational aids against 2D maps of the same environments.

Geovisualisation software (Image (c) University of Aberdeen 2005, data (c) Crown Copyright/database right 2005. An Ordnance Survey/(Datacentre) supplied service)
The software can create 3D representations of mountainous

"We plan to gather evidence that will allow a better evaluation of the potential impact of such Geovisualisation methods for mountain environments in Scotland.

"Computer-based Geovisualisation is a very effective tool for representing, exploring and analysing data of such complexity."

Experienced mountaineers, mountain rescue teams, casual weekend walkers and tourists are among those who are using this new and expanding technology.

The research team includes Dr Michael Wood at the university's department of geography and environment, Dr Colin Calder of the learning technology unit and Professor David Miller of the Macaulay Institute.

The team are now recruiting volunteers with an interest in hillwalking or orienteering onto their study.

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