Handheld rugged PDA Patagonia expedition
In the Field

Handhelds rugged computers return to Patagonia

The wild, untamed expanses of Chilean Patagonia pose a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned explorers. The landscape is just as unforgiving as it is beautiful and any tech brought here is going to have to prove that it’s truly rugged. A team of explorers from Centre Terre is once again venturing into the most remote regions of Patagonia, Madre de Dios Island, and once again they are bringing along Handheld’s rugged computers.

A delayed 10th anniversary in Patagonia

During their latest expedition in 2023, after a four-year hiatus, the team from Centre Terre embarked on their 10th journey to the Patagonian Archipelago, continuing the exploration started in previous years. The cave explorers and divers put up camp at Seno Egg, providing them with access to unexplored lands on the vast limestone plateau.

Patagonia’s notorious weather systems—where heavy rains and gales are more the rule than the exception—pose a significant challenge to any exploration team. 2023 was a particularly tough year that tested every aspect of their journey. In these conditions the rugged PDAs proved their worth as an all-purpose tool, providing aid with everything from navigation to documentation of the unexplored terrains.

The tools of modern exploration

Forget about your smartphone or tablet; when you’re miles from civilization, facing down the elements, you need something that can take a beating and keep on ticking. Handheld’s rugged PDAs are engineered for just this scenario. Running on Android, these robust gadgets are the backbone of the team’s Geographic Information System (GIS), aiding in the task of charting unexplored territories and supporting the bid for UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Handheld PDAs were crucial for documenting the expedition’s findings. Their built-in cameras, while not replacing professional photographic equipment, allowed the team to document new findings efficiently. Marble Glaciers, untouched rock paintings, and archaeological remnants of ancient inhabitants were among the treasures unveiled, thanks to the reliability and versatility of these handheld devices.

The adaptability of Handheld’s rugged computers also allowed for the installation of specific software for cave topography and underwater planning. This software supported crucial tasks such as gas mixture calculations and dive planning. Demonstrating the versatility of the rugged PDAs by adapting to the needs of the explorers.

A legacy of rugged exploration

The use of rugged handhelds in Patagonia is not a new concept. The Nautiz X8, for instance, became a pivotal tool during the Ultima Patagonia 2017 expedition. Its introduction marked a significant shift in how technology could be leveraged in extreme conditions. The device proved its worth time and again, enduring the elements and replacing an array of more fragile equipment. With features designed for visibility, durability, and multifunctionality, the Nautiz X8 embodied the essence of a true expeditionary tool.

In these vast, unpredictable landscapes, Handheld’s rugged computers are proving to be indispensable allies, demonstrating that with the right tech, even the most remote corners of the planet are within our grasp. These expeditions not only contribute to the scientific and geographical knowledge of Patagonia but also underscore the critical role of technology in expanding the frontiers of exploration.