Hikers who have conquered some of the most challenging trails and want to show off these accomplishments can now memorialize their impressive feats in stunning 3D-printed sculptures made from their GPS tracks.
Nice Trails, a project started by Oscar Ardaiz, a computer science Ph.D. candidate based in Barcelona, Spain, creates models, or "trophies," that visualize GPS-tracked hiking trails, cycling trails or other mountainous routes in three dimensions.
A user can simply upload and save a GPS track to the project's website, and Nice Trails will create a 3D-printed replica of the path and the surrounding terrain. The company said it takes about two weeks to produce each customized trophy, and the models can include such details as lakes, forested areas, grasslands and snow cover — with the GPS path traced in red. [11 Outdoor Gifts for Exploring Our Amazing Planet]
Ardaiz said the inspiration for Nice Trails came from his own longing for a special keepsake to commemorate climbing Washington's Mount Rainier.
"One day, back from climbing Mount Rainier, I was revisiting the trail with my phone, and while I was so proud and happy of the hike, I felt that that line on a flat map didn't quite represent the awesomeness of the day spent conquering the top," Ardaiz wrote in a description of the project on the Nice Trails website. "So I really wanted to view my track in 3D, to see the crests and valleys that I crossed."
The hollow models are made with a gypsum-based powder bound with an adhesive, according to Nice Trails.
The trophies are available in three sizes: The smallest size, measuring 1.97 inches (5 centimeters) long, retails for $55; the medium size (and most popular, according to Nice Trails) measures 3.94 inches (10 cm) long and retails for $111; the largest measures 5.91 inches (15 cm) long and retails for $167.
More information, including how to upload your GPS tracks and purchase a model, can be found on the Nice Trails website.
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Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.