Show me the way

late, you’re lost, and your map is flapping around in the wind and the rain.
What you need is MicroMap, says Davey Winder

of my first column a few months ago will recall that I am not averse to
low-tech solutions to real-world problems. In that first column, I waxed
lyrical about a penknife, albeit a rather swish Victorinox ‘cybertool’ version
replete with gizmos for getting under the bonnet of your notebook PC.

month I have found yet another device that doesn’t require a power supply, or
batteries even, comes with no electronic components, yet solves one of the
great ongoing HR problems – that of mapping for the mobile workforce. Have your
executives ever arrived in a strange town or foreign city wondering how to get
to the hotel to find that meeting place when there isn’t a taxi in sight? If
they are travelling from city to city, across Europe or the US, it isn’t
practical to carry around city maps for every location en route as well as road
maps – until now. This month’s featured gadget – the MicroMap system from
Minimap – allows you to carry a library of city-centre and road maps for Europe
and the US in your pocket.

secrets are twofold. First, there are the maps themselves, which, despite being
no bigger than a credit card and a lot thinner, pack in plenty of detail –
thanks to the six million DPI resolution made possible by cutting-edge printing
technology developed with the help of British Aerospace and both Oxford and
Cambridge Universities.

other half of this double whammy is the viewer itself, which uses precision
optics to clearly display those 1/40th-scale miniature map cards. The viewer is
no bigger than a pack of playing cards, flips open and shut with one hand, yet
is particularly tough, being made of the same polycarbonate ABS plastic
material that is used in US riot shields. The viewer design is incredibly
clever, for not only does it contribute to the small size when folded, but when
opened up for viewing, it shields the maps from both wind and rain. No more
struggling with a large paper map as it flaps about in the wind and gets soggy
in the rain.

is almost too simple to believe. Flip open the viewer to reveal a slot that
holds a card and, suspended above it, a magnifying lens. Look through the lens
directly down on to the card and the miniature maps appear full-size.
Amazingly, there is no distortion, and provided there is enough ambient light
available, every detail is crystal-clear.

all of the MicroMap system’s advantages are immediately apparent. For example,
I discovered by accident that you can mark your route on the map card using a
felt-tipped pen (this is easiest to do if you use the viewer to see what you
are doing, of course) and then simply wash it off with a damp cloth when you
are done. Or how about the fact that by using MicroMap, your company is doing
its bit for the environment, which is always good PR apart from anything else.
The maps use only 2.5% of the paper of a conventional map in their manufacture
and the viewer is totally recyclable.

a corporate level, you could have the viewer embossed with your logo or
produced in the company colours, and Minimap will even design and print bespoke
cards featuring your company’s products, services, location maps and so on. So
as well as being the perfect mapping tool for your mobile workforce and
executive travellers, it makes a decent corporate gift-come-marketing device as
well. Now it’s not often in HR that you get to be the blue-eyed boys and girls
with the marketing department and the financial director at the same time, is

well as winning a place in my mobile business arsenal, it has also scooped the
Sunday Times Invention of the Year award, won the World Innovation Olympics and
been honoured by the British Cartographic Society for its mapping technology.

of the map card sets that Iconsider indispensable are: UK Road Map, covering
over 1,600 towns and villages; UK Regional Cities, covering 20 of the UK’s
biggest city centres; an Inner London A-Z Street Guide, with 4,500 streets indexed;
a double set of European Cities, featuring 21 European city centres; US Cities,
featuring 12 US city centres; and finally in the essential arsenal there’s the
Major Highways of the US.

viewer US$30, map cards from US$11. More details from

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