MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A group of ambitious researchers at the University of Minnesota developed a new app that lets you see everything passing below you when you are flying on an airplane.
The “Flyover Country” app allows you to learn about the land below you as you go.
“It’s similar to the way I use Google Earth,” Amy Myrbo, one of the app’s creators, said.
The innovative tool is earth science in an "easy to understand" format. The maps include details about fossils, landscape and history of an area.
“"You can learn about the formation of certain mountain ranges or learn about a river or why a certain town is located where it is,” Shane Loeffler, another one of the app’s creators, said.
You don't need Wi-Fi to run the app because you download your route ahead of time and it works off GPS. For example, if you’re flying from San Francisco to Minneapolis you tap San Francisco and MSP Airport on the app and draw a line. The app then downloads all the data and maps along that route.
The 23-year-old came up with the idea while he was traveling.
“I was actually down in South America flying over Patagonia looking at the incredible crazy mountains,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler joined forces with Amy Myrbo, Sijia Ai and another software development consultant to make it happen.
The app went live in December. Since then, it’s been featured in Smithsonian Magazine and articles around the world. As of Friday, the app had 30,000 users.
“"There's a huge push from the federal level to get scientists' info accessible to everyone,” Myrbo said.
The app is one of the few tools pulling in that information and displaying it in a colorful way.
The Flyover Country app is also used for hiking, canoeing and road trips. And what you see now is probably just the beginning.
The group received a grant from the national science foundation and they've had a lot of support from the university to make this happen.
"There are lots of reasons for people to notice how interesting the world is,” Loefller said.