GPS or a Global Positioning System is one example of a highly complex technology being deployed for use in common applications used by the public. There are 24 satellites circling the earth 24 hours at a distance of 12000 miles, and they relay coded signals to earth constantly. Such a multifaceted technology is expensive to develop, and GPs was actually created for military applications by the US Department of Defense, and later was made available to the public for civilian use.
Role of satellites
GPS satellites that orbit the earth twice a day continuously stream the signals to earth, and this signal is received by GPS receivers around the world. Your GPS receiver in your car, or even the newest handheld versions, uses a triangulation method to calculate its exact location. Actually, your GPS receiver compares the time information when it was sent and received by the receiver to calculate the relative distances from different satellites to estimate the position of the receiver.
The latest technology has made it possible to determine the position to the accuracy of less than 15 meters. Imagine a receiver in the ocean or the uninhabited wild; you can imagine what a great advantage there is to a system that gives the position so accurately day or night and any weather conditions. We’ve come a long way from lighthouses used for navigation!
GPS has found a wide variety of applications on air, land and sea. It is playing a great role in saving lives in disasters, and is now used to track airplanes, ships and boats with much greater accuracy than we have ever had previously. Satellite Navigation systems adapted in cars has now become very common, either built in to the dashboard or as plug-in addition. GPS function is integrated to the mapping systems to help drivers easily find their way in cities or the countryside. It can also assist with avoiding traffic jams and construction delays, thereby saving time, frustration, and fuel.
Tracking devices enabled with GPS have been used by fleet owners to monitor the position of each of their vehicles at any given time, and even allow a trucking company to know if their drivers are obeying the speed limits. Similar applications have been introduced to consumers as well. It is now possible to have a GPS locator put on your car in the event it is stolen, and now even to add one to your teenage daughter’s car so that you know she is where she belongs.
Additionally, there are now personal tracking devices that can be utilized by anxious parents and adult children of the elderly and infirm. In fact, most cellular phones have GPS tracking ability. All major Smartphones now incorporate a wide variety of applications utilizing GPS and giving valuable service to the mobile users. When you are on the move, GPS phone can tell you where the closest Chinese restaurant or shoe store is located, and then effortlessly guide you to it. This is done by taking your current co-ordinates and searching the closest places with the GPS function. A really interesting new service is offered by GPSWeb (an extension of the Internet browser) which will add User Location to every HTTP request and this information is used to give services specific to the user’s location.
There are also a great many additional applications of GPS that have not been publicized. Did you know that many of the endangered species’, like rhinos, gorillas, and eagles are being charted with the help of GPS devices to study their movements and find ways to protect them? Other environmental applications include study of degradation of some regions threatened by overgrazing. GPS technology has shown potential in so many areas that future growth is assured! Already, work is being done to help incorporate it in the lives of the visually impaired and even more technically advanced GPS, like 3D GPS and GPS for digital cameras.
Denise Gabbard is a writer and blogger and helps clients around the world build an online presence for their businesses. She writes about a wide range of things, from travel to technology, to fleet insurance online, and healthy eating and fitness.
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