Orienteering – There’s an app for that!
November 2, 2020 by Ing Uhlin
“UsynligO” is a free smartphone app that allows organizers to set up an orienteering course without setting out flags in the terrain to mark the control locations. The controls are instead located by their GPS coordinates. UsynligO uses your smartphone’s GPS to let you know when you are close to the control location and tells you with by vibrating and playing a short tune.
While most people’s smartphone GPS is not accurate enough to allow for competition-level events (results depend on weather, tree cover, and nearby buildings, as well as GPS quality), it is a great way to get out and practice your skills in the woods, especially now when we cannot have large in-person events.
UsynligO – How do you pronounce it? Try “oo-sin-lee-oh.” In Norwegian, it means “invisible orienteering” and this is what it sounds like. If you are more comfortable with saying something that you can pronounce, call it InvisibleO, or just “the App”.
How do you get started? First, download and install UsynligO from the Apple App Store or Android Play Store. Then check out these step-by-step instructions adapted from the Tahoma Orienteering Team (Thank You Tahoma!).
UsynligO is Beginner-friendly. You can ask for hints for direction and distance to the control. If you cannot find a control, or do not have time to finish the course, you can switch to Score-O (where the controls can be taken in any order and you do not have to find them all).
Although UsynligO uses only the GPS (and do not require cell service) once you have started a course, you do have to load the course into the app while you still have cell service, even if you are using a printed paper map.
To locate the controls by their real-world coordinates (i.e. latitude/longitude), UsynligO requires a “georeferenced” orienteering map. That means the orienteering map must know where in the world it is. Because many of our maps are not georeferenced, our mapping team is currently hard at work updating them with this information.
Here’s a YouTube video from Orienteering Cincinnati (thanks OCin!) that describes how to use the UsynligO app (skip to 6:00 in the video to go right to OCin information about UsynligO).