Garmin Creates New Niche with GPS-Based Games on Geko 201

March 24, 2003

OLATHE, Kan. — Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (Nasdaq: GRMN), today announced that the company is patenting a series of geolocation games that turns the great outdoors into a virtual gameboard using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. GPS games are currently available on three Garmin products, including the new Geko 201, which was strategically designed to create a new niche and increase the benefits of GPS technology in the outdoor recreation market.

As a slender, lightweight, waterproof GPS device, the Geko 201 provides basic navigation capabilities using waypoints, track points and routes. It is one of the smallest, most affordable GPS products to offer satellite-differential WAAS accuracy, which pinpoints a user’s location within 10 feet.

"The Geko 201 is the kind of product that compels users to go outside and play," said Gary Kelley, Garmin's director of marketing. "The Geko's GPS games bring people together and also teach them how to use GPS technology while they’re outdoors having fun."

Garmin first incorporated geolocation games on its Rino 110 and Rino 120 devices — innovative, patented FRS radios that combine short-range, two-way voice communications and GPS navigation capabilities. Several of the games take advantage of these integrated technologies. While the games add value to the Rino series, the game pack on the Geko 201 is one of its primary features.

The Geko 201 contains four geolocation games — Virtual Maze, Memory Race, Nibbons and Geko Smak. Participants need an area of roughly 360 square feet to appreciate these geolocation games.

Think of a human version of the popular Pac-Man video game and you get the idea behind Virtual Maze. The player walks through a labyrinth on the screen in search of markers. The goal is to collect all of the flags within the maze in the fastest time possible. There are three levels of difficulty as well as three sizes of mazes for additional adventures. Each maze is randomly generated, making each game a new challenge. For more competition, get a few of your Geko-toting friends together and synchronize the start of Virtual Maze. That way, all gamers compete against each other and against the clock in the same maze on their Geko 201.

For people with a passion for the outdoors and lots of concentration, Memory Race fits the bill. In this geolocation game, players attempt to match different symbols inside treasure chests within a grid system, using the great outdoors as their gameboard. Like Virtual Maze, gamers can choose higher levels of difficulty and larger playing areas for more enjoyment.

Nibbons is a game of navigational strategy. Players travel to a numeric marker, leaving behind an electronic breadcrumb trail. After reaching the marker, they need to walk to the next sequential marker. The catch: Reach the next marker without crossing your tracks. If you do, you’ll need to start over. When you get the gist of the game, you’ll step up to the next level of competition.

For the hunter-gatherer in the crowd, Garmin added Geko Smak to the game pack. Based on the Whac-A-Mole carnival game, the object of this activity is to "smack" the virtual lizard before it disappears from the display. The lizards appear within close proximity to your current location and you must reach each lizard and hit the "OK" key. The game gets progressively more difficult at higher stages in which lizards appear quicker and farther apart.

Geolocation games are in their infancy and Garmin plans to develop more games to enhance outdoor activities in current and future GPS-enabled products. In the meantime, outdoor enthusiasts and game fanatics can get outside and enjoy the current game pack on the Geko 201, which retails for a suggested price of $149.99.