A while ago Geocaching mentioned their new “Lab caches” idea. A lab cache is a new cache type that Groundspeak announced in August. In the announcement Groundspeak said that lab caches will count towards your find count and would only be available at Mega Events. The special thing about Lab Caches is that you must find a code in order to mark the cache as found like with Wherigo completion codes. I do like the idea of having a code in order to log a cache as it’s a good verification that you did indeed find it. Since the announcement there have been a few lab caches and it was announced that there would be one at the Kent MEGA. On your geocaching profile they give you a new cache type icon that Walter White would be proud of!!! ;)
Lab Caches can be anything and give a playing field for Groundspeak to experiment with new ideas. As they don’t exist after an event and there’s no log it’s a bit of a hard concept to grasp!
To make it that little bit more trickier there was an announcement recently on the Geocaching blog about an “I <3 Geocaching" lab cache which will be available to premium members between 3rd and 28th February. So try and get your head around this…
During this time period you will be able to hide one personal lab cache (and no more than one) for one person. You create your personal lab cache and a URL will be generated. You then pass that URL onto somebody (Or a few people if you wish but it’s meant for “One special person”). That person can then log the cache using that URL. Once it’s logged it’s automatically archived so nobody else can log it. You must involve a code in the process. So if you hide a container there could be a code written inside which the finder then inputs when they log their find (You will have specified what this code was when you created the cache and it will have been hidden from the view of others). There doesn’t have to be a container though. These caches can be hidden anywhere even in your house. The code may be a word written on a monument somewhere (for example) like a virtual cache.
Groundspeak say that that this idea of personal lab caches could be used for marriage proposals (!), presenting your friend with some cinema tickets, or taking your friend on their own personal adventure.
At the moment it’s just a test and your find count won’t go up after logging an ‘I <3 Geocaching' cache. So what's the point? Well, I guess we're helping them test out some new features and they probably figured it was about time after challenges were ditched! At the moment the geocaching statistics system doesn't support lab caches anyway (It will in the future) so although you do see your find count increase with other lab caches they won't fill a space on your caching calendar, won't be included in your MyFinds PQ, and don't count towards your hide count.
It does all sound a bit mad at the moment, like Challenges did. I'm not sure Geocaching needs lab caches but maybe this is an attempt to fill the empty hole left when challenge caches disappeared. I love the idea of having a code to log a cache though and would like to see this feature made optional for physical cache types. So I'm going to say let's wait and see what comes of it all and give them a chance. It might develop into something completely awesome! :D