Advancements in technology constantly enhance and frustrate our modern world and way of life. GPS is one of those everyday technologies that humankind truly takes for granted. Humans are so used to utilizing it, that we’re susceptible to irritation when its services are slightly sluggish or unusually erroneous.
Do you ever make the effort to appreciate the GPS system for the magnitude of its magic? Do you wish to understand its inner workings and how the tracking system improves our efficiency and daily activities? Let’s take a closer look at exactly what GPS is, and the basics of its origins. Here is a brief history of GPS tracking technology.
GPS Navigation: Origins of the Global Positioning System
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. The first idea to create a space-based tracking system began in the Sputnik era of the 1960s. By the mid-70s, numerous solar-paneled satellites were out in space, orbiting our planet. This system of satellites initially started as a global navigation system for military-based vehicles and equipment—both on land and in the air—by the U.S. Department of Defense.
These satellites continually broadcast their locations and status updates, and an Earth-based GPS device receives the signals to interpret their specified data. By utilizing the locations of four or more satellites in space, in relation to the terrestrial tracking device, users can triangulate an exact location in the three-dimensional space. Mapping a higher number of satellites with a receiver can provide an even more precise position.
The New Era: Commercial and Consumer Use
Next up on a brief history of GPS tracking technology, we’ll touch concisely on the topic of consumer use. This includes technology that was once limited to military applications opened up to the civilian population in the 1980s. The government made GPS public for commercial industries for greater safety and security.
Early commercial GPS devices were relatively expensive and restricted mainly to delivery, freight, and transportation operations. After the lift of the Selective Availability policy in the millennium, the potential for higher-caliber safety, security, and life-saving applications finally came about. Ever since, GPS has become a common technology for just about every industry.
Modern Applications of GPS Tracking Devices
With the assistance of brilliant scientists and engineers, GPS tracking has a wide array of commercial and personal uses in our digital-savvy era, such as search and rescue operations, vehicle tracking, geocaching, augmented reality games, and fitness or wellness monitoring. We can also thank the growth of smartphone usage. Dedicated monitoring devices, smartphone apps, and built-in displays keep close tabs on locations.
Electrical engineers install GPS receivers on specific types of printed circuit boards to transmit locations, as well as to store the data on the PCB’s memory chip. This type of innovative technology has completely transformed life as we know it today. Truly, humanity has only scratched the surface. Tracking, navigation, and communication are easier and faster than ever before. The future is bright for further developments and solutions of innovative GPS technology.