GPS tracking systems offer new options for businesses and fun diversions for recreation.
GPS tracking systems, or global positioning systems (GPS), were first designed for the military by the Department of Defense in 1973. Their purpose was to aid the armed forces and military vehicles, airliners and ships in tracking their global positions with pinpoint precision.
The technology has evolved to such a degree that GPS tracking systems are now used to:
GPS tracking system satellites orbit Earth and transmit signals to receivers on the ground. Data transmitted by the satellites includes location and current time. Based on the distance and time it takes for the signals to reach the GPS unit, the receiver can calculate its ground position. According to the National Air and Space Museum, there are at least 24 GPS satellites in operation at all times.
For individuals who travel to unfamiliar locations for business or pleasure, have a difficult time deciphering maps or would rather not ask for directions, a standard GPS navigational system for the car is a must-have. Once a destination is keyed into the GPS, the system, depending on its capabilities, can map a route, verbally provide the driver with turn-by-turn directions and display the driving route on the screen. Drivers can ask for the shortest route, the quickest route or toll-free routes. Users can also locate service stations, ATMs, lodging and tourist attractions. More sophisticated GPS units help individuals locate an eating establishment based on their food preferences.
A newer model of GPS -- the GetiSight -- is becoming popular with parents of teenage children. This tracking system assists parents in knowing the whereabouts of a teenager's car, the direction in which the car is moving and how fast the car is traveling. It also is a way to make young adults mindful of their driving patterns.
The GetiSight comes with a tiny pre-installed device that is monitored in real time (the actual time it takes for an action or process to take place) on the company's homepage. All data gathered by the system is available through a safe, password-protected Internet portal. Once individuals are logged in they are able to follow the vehicle and monitor the GPS. Individualized e-mail and mobile telephone text message alerts can be set up to notify parents if their child's car is no longer within the defined parameters or if they are using excessive speed.
This model can only track a vehicle in locations that have mobile phone coverage. If the coverage is disrupted, then the device maintains the information and transmits it once the vehicle returns to a covered area.
According to GPS Technologies, a GPS tracking system can help businesses - especially those with vehicle fleets - improve their bottom line. GPS fleet management and GPS tracking systems are helping companies control their operating costs, improve accountability and increase their productivity, efficiency and profits. These devices generally are most effective when installed in vehicles that are used for service, sales, deliveries and long-distance transportation.
GPS Tracking Systems designed specifically for the transportation industry are equipped with real-time vehicle tracking systems, stolen vehicle recovery software and an all-satellite-based monitoring and communication system for tracking equipment any place at any time. Text reports are generated that provide travel and rest times, locations, speed, routes, driver and vehicle effectiveness, and productivity with both real-time updates and stored data.
GPS can be used when golfing, fishing, and searching for buried treasure or working out. Golfers who bring their GPS on the links can select which golf club to use for better accuracy. Players must map the fairways by walking the golf course to establish waypoints. Most systems require the user to click on the button that resembles a flag close to each tee box and hole. As the round of golf progresses, the player's location and distance to the hole is displayed. The necessary software can be downloaded (at no cost) and then loaded onto the GPS.
The Garmin GPSMap76CSx is a fisherman's delight. This waterproof system-equipped with an electronic compass tells the user what days and times are best for fishing and what fish are in season. It also includes information on premium fishing locations, sunrise and sunset times, lunar phases and tide tables.
Hide-and-seek lovers and adventure enthusiasts enjoy using their GPS to search for buried treasures. Upon downloading the geocache program, individuals have access to a listing of downloadable waypoint markers for riches buried throughout the United States. Successful hunters then share their adventures online.
Many exercise fanatics use their GPS as a personal fitness trainer. Worn on the wrist, these devices record the user's pace, heart rate and even the number of calories burned. Workout data is committed to the system's memory to monitor an athlete's improvement.