BAR HARBOR, Maine — The next time you visit Acadia National Park, be sure to take your iPhone.
A school technology director from Yarmouth has developed a new application for the iPhone that offers a guided tour of the park right in the palm of your hand.
Kerry Gallivan, 36, the president and founder of Chimani LLC, said the idea for the Acadia application grew out of an experience he had while hiking in the park.
“I was on Gorham Mountain and was using my iPhone,” he said. “I wanted more information about the mountain and the trail I was on. I couldn’t find it, and I figured there were other people in the same situation. That was the inspiration. It was a solution to a problem I had experienced.”
Gallivan describes his “app” as an all-in-one travel guide to the park. Although it runs on the smart phone platform, the application is designed to work entirely off-line without any cell phone connection. It has GPS functionality built into it, which provides interactive, custom-made maps of the park and a 34-minute audio tour of the Park Loop Road.
“It includes each stop along the Park Loop Road,” he said. “You can check out each of the lookouts and you get a description of the view and the history behind it.”
With the tap of an icon, a voice will describe the view to the user from the iPhone.
In addition to the on-the-road information, the application also includes interactive information and maps of Acadia’s hiking trails and the carriage road system.
The application includes all the symbols for services normally found in a national park, such as camping areas, parking areas and restrooms. A touch on the icon reveals the locations of those facilities on a map of the park.
The application was developed in Maine and was based on a guide the park provides for tour bus drivers in Acadia.
“We used that as a basis, but it’s all original information,” he said.
Gallivan said he worked with a professional photographer and a travel writer to create the content in the application.
Park officials were not aware of Gallivan’s new guided tour application, although they know the technology exists.
“We’re aware that this kind of technology is being used in other parts of the country in national parks,” said ANP Assistant Superintendent Len Bobinchok. “But our cell phone reception is really spotty, and we’ve not pursued it with any real effort.”
Bobinchok said that although the park is certainly not opposed to this type of technology, it would have liked to have had input into the content to ensure that the information included was accurate.
“We’re always concerned about making sure the public is getting accurate information,” he said.
The park produces its own interpretive information, including an audio guided tour of the park.
Gallivan said that in addition to information about the park itself, his application includes 365 days of sunrise and sunset information for the park, the schedule for the Island Explorer bus, and information about the tides, including the best times to visit Thunder Hole in the park.
The application also provides information from the park about ranger-led events throughout the summer. Gallivan said he manually updates that schedule regularly.
This type of application is made possible by advances in communications technology, he said. In the past such information would have only been offered through a website.
“Five years ago, we would be doing this as a dot-com,” he said.
The emerging technology, however, has made it possible to transfer an interactive program such as this one to the small screen of a mobile phone.
“I love emerging technology,” said Gallivan, who is a technology director in SAD 75 in southern Maine. “I love the outdoors, and I love Acadia.”
Although the application, which costs $9.99, is only available for iPhones through the Apple Store, Gallivan said he is developing a version for Android, another interactive mobile platform. That application will be launched in July, he said.
Gallivan started his company, Chimani LLC, in January to market the mobile application. The company’s name is a shortened version of the Chimanimani National Park in Zimbabwe where Gallivan completed a three-week Outward Bound course while he was living and working in that country in the mid-1990s.
He began the business with the Acadia National Park application, because it was the national park he knew the best. But Gallivan said he plans to develop similar applications for all of the major national parks in the U.S. His next offering will be for the Cape Cod National Sea Shore, due out on July 4. And he’s already begun work on a new application for Yosemite National Park in California.
The company’s website is www.chimani.com.