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Dennis Lutynski, The Future of Field Trials


Optical Point

Change in this game comes reluctantly. There is tremendous growth potential for field trialing through the use of video cameras, camcorders, smart phones, wrist phones, quadcopters, gimbals, and social media. If you’re wondering how so many new sports get off to such a quick start, think about the GoPro demo videos you see in stores everywhere. Now expand that horizon of worldwide viewers to many millions on YouTube.

Combined, these are immensely capable technologies that have exposed many old and new outdoor sports to a wider range of audiences not possible before and thereby gaining new participants. These same technologies are fitting for our sport, though some may be controversial, they offer alternatives fully worth exploring.

Let’s look at some new technology. One innovative technology, is a mini flying fortress that features a built-in Wi-Fi HD video camera, with remote intelligent GPS-based autopilot. These mini flying quadcopters, and octocopters provide live output from on-board camcorders. While the copter is in flight the output is viewable on a smart phone. The capabilities to record near cinematic quality within an affordable platform were unimaginable a few years ago. This technology represents a breakthrough for aerial photography, exactly what our sport needs for recording and sharing all the action. Imagine a little drone pre-programed to follow and record dogs running the course hour to hour.  It’s flight is flexible and will hold position in mid-air whenever necessary to record highlights like dogs on point. In time a collection of edited recordings can be used as a forum of Webinars to help educate beginners and others seeking more knowledge.

Quadcopter
Octocopter with video camera attached hovering about thirty feet off the ground.

Now, as always, it’s the beginner that is the promise of our future. Our relationship with them and their expressed enthusiasm should hold sway. As technologies gain worldwide momentum, some form of implementation usually happens, think Garmin. I doubt the sonorous whoofle, and demands of the seasoned veteran will be silenced. That’s okay; they are deeply rooted in this sport, a game they love. They have rich traditions and multiple generations of knowledge. They are the ones who have pushed us through the great depression, recessions, and world wars. Their experience and wisdom are indispensable to this sports’ future.

Another new technology is Google Glass. Many among this sport seek faster and more accurate reporting. Reporters could chose to use Google Glass as an aid for the task. Imagine a field trial reporter struggling from evading memory, and obscure clues as to what was observed. Google Glass can provide support with instant replay or be replayed at a later date. Absentee owners will not only read about their dogs performance but will also be able to view it from any connected place in the world. The “eye in the sky” should provide higher levels of sportsmanship while building higher levels of competition. These new technologies are in the cards, and they are available now!

While we wrestle with new wireless technology we shouldn’t discard the valued old school methods, but bringing the two together is as important as ever. Change that comes slow and reluctant can be good in some respects but, damaging in others. Judging, campaigning, training, and breeding are a maze of ideas, long held traditions, habits, and perceptions. These all represent what is both strong and fragile about our game, it takes an open mind to soak it all in. Therefore as new technologies evolve into our sport new guidelines may need to be implemented. No editorial chariot will have all the answers, while jousting with the future shouldn’t put anyone out of their comfort zone. Field trialing is a unique fringe sport with plenty of staying power.

We know the accomplished veteran is out back training right now. For that veteran field trialer these new technologies might feel like an invasion. But, let’s remember field trialing’s many significant attributes are what have enabled this sport to survive one hundred plus years, and to exist at all.

Strong visuals are expressly needed to promote field trials on the Internet and social media highways. These visuals will excite and motivate people to explore or join this great outdoor sport. If people don’t know this sport exists, how can it gain popularity? Maybe we should broaden our vision, it could be our future.

Notes of interest: Capabilities of Google Glass and performance of Vision quadcopters have skyrocketed while prices have dramatically dropped. Both platforms can be purchased now for less than $1,500 each. FAA is writing new guidelines for these capable drones while companies like Amazon, make plans for a grand scale package delivery system in high density neighborhoods. Further, Vision Drones are already at work in your area. Realtor’s, golf courses, and resort destinations are using them. We may not be interested in drones delivering our pizza, but drones used for location and recovery of  lost dogs is  in our interest. Further, many of the beneficial agriculture applications will also benefit us. One of the profitable time saving advantage farmers will gain, is the ability to pinpoint crop damage faster. Then quickly and efficiently dust only the infested crop areas. Less spray will leave higher numbers of innocent bugs unharmed helping to promote a healthier wild bird population, nice for our sport.

GoProPhotos
Images show the use of GoPro video cameras and some of the ways they can be mounted to capture sports action.

Strideaway Facebook page
Strideaway’s Facebook page has 1701 followers or “likes”. Posts can be selectively shared with individuals and the many bird dog related groups that are now using Facebook. It allows viewers to interact by commenting and further share the posts which link to articles on this website. Increasing traffic to the site is also critical to advertisers who support Strideaway.

Strideaway Twitter Feed
Winners of major championships are posted to Facebook which links to our Twitter Account and from there Strideaway’s homepage Bulletin.

Strideaway YouTube Page

The Stridaway YouTube page allows us to post our own videos (coming in the new future!) as well as subscribe to others who have field trial related videos to share. For example, we subscribe to Dennis’ Sky Dance page.

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ABOUT STRIDEAWAY

Strideaway is an online publication founded in 2008. We are dedicated to promoting the great sport of American pointing dog field trials, in particular American Field sanctioned trials for pointers and setters. Our objective is to present the voices and ideas of experienced trainers, handlers, breeders and other knowledgeable participants and enthusiasts from the past to the present — amateurs and professionals alike. Whether All-Age or Shooting Dog, Horseback or Walking Trials, we place particular emphasis on wild bird field trials and the dogs that compete in them. We present richly illustrated articles and stories, podcast interviews and other types of media on a regular basis with the hope of providing an ever expanding, searchable archive of information relevant to pointing dog field trials.Read article

This website is dedicated to our ever faithful friend and Strideaway contributor, Bill Allen, whose book The Unforgettables and Other True Fables we published in 2010.

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