March 1, 2006
GPS technology is over 15 years old and is improving in accuracy and availability all the time. From a consumers perspective GPS or ‘Sat-Nav’ is the technology that enables them to go from one place to another place without consulting a paper directory. When car manufacturers first starting integrating GPS into car’s onboard computers it was like Knight Rider had finally arrived!
Satellite Navigation Systems can be used for determining your precise location and providing a highly accurate time reference almost anywhere on Earth or in Earth orbit. GPS or Global Positioning System is the only currently operational satellite navigation system and has an accuracy of about 5 meters.
The GPS system was designed by and is controlled by the United States Department of Defence and can be used by both military and civilian applications. GPS is available for public use, free of charge.
Over the past few years GPS devices have become cheaper and increasingly more affordable – to the point where a handheld system can now be purchased less the $700. The new GPS chips are also gaining in accuracy and are less sensitive to interference.
GPS coupled with an electronic mapping system enables you (either with an in-car device or a handheld GPS device) to accurately pinpoint yourself on an electronic map anywhere in the world. ‘Sat Nav’ systems are the new age equivalent of the Melways.
About 5 years ago car manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and BMW started integrating GPS technology into their cars – the technology was only available to the very wealthy, however over the last 2 years there have been devices available as after-market accessories that bring GPS technology to the masses. Additionally car manufacturers now offer a built in GPS solution.
GPS devices are also useful in other fields like fishing. Lets say you catch a lot of fish at a particular point in the ocean – with a GPS device you can record the exact latitude and longitude and re-visit the same location any time. The GPS device will guide you there.