A lot of people consider GPS to be outdated and ineffective compared to the internet tracking and location-finding tools we have now, but it’s actually one of the strongest methods of navigation we’ve ever created. While it thankfully hadn’t been forgotten, it’s still not getting as much attention as it deserves, and there’s plenty of usages for GPS tools that could make life much, much easier for you.
The Basics of GPS
We all know that GPS devices use satellites to determine our position, usually within a maximum range of about ten to fifteen meters or so depending on the quality of the receiver. That sounds simple, but it opens up a lot of possibilities that people have forgotten over the years. We’ve used GPS to track earthquakes, predict floods, and manage incoming snowfalls and, most commonly, as a security measure or navigational tool. But what does it do that makes it so different from any other tool, and why does it matter so much?
The main advantage of GPS is that it uses multiple satellites, all of which are meant to track distances independently and figure out your position based on all the data they share with each other. Unlike Wi-Fi tracking, which can only tell you your position within a Wi-Fi network’s range, GPS is incredibly accurate and can often get your exact location if you’re in a clear outdoor area. You don’t need access to any special services and don’t have to pay any fees for your GPS receiver to work: as long as you can reach the satellites, they can track your position.
Why is GPS useful?
GPS is probably the most reliable positioning system we’ve ever developed, and comes the closest to a worldwide navigation system. If you’re lost in a woodland area and don’t know your way out, all you need to do is get into a place where the satellites can reach you and wait to receive your location information: even if there’s interference from trees or bad weather, most GPS systems can still get within a twenty meters of your location, so you’re still going to know where you are.
Even better, the systems that allow for this kind of tracking are very compact. Whether they’re installed on your phones or carried as a separate emergency tool, they don’t take up much room, so you can have them with you at almost any time without having to bring along any bulky equipment.
When should I use GPS?
If you’re a fan of walking, hiking, jogging or even just exploring natural woodland areas, it’s worth getting at least one device that’s capable of GPS. Not only can it tell you your (almost) exact position, but a car navigation GPS device can even help you get anywhere in the world by constantly updating you on where you’re going. A mobile GPS system can be used for this too and has the added benefit of being easy to transport almost anywhere.
In fact, GPS can be useful in literally any situation where you might not know an area, even in a local town or city. The only time it stops being helpful is if you’re already familiar with a location, but even then, having the option never hurts, and very few people know the entire layout of their own off by heart. Some GPS devices give you the option of planning a route from one point to another, which can be a good way to find out the shorted path between points.
Where can I find GPS devices?
If you’re interested in using a GPS device, or just want to have a look at how far mobile GPS and car navigation tools have come, there are plenty of places to look. This includes dedicated hobby sites like GeoSettr, which provides lists of the best new GPS devices and the additions they add over previous years’ models, as well as details on how they can be used for all sorts of outdoor activities.
Of course, no matter where you look, you’re bound to find a lot of different GPS device styles, from watches and compasses to heavy-duty GPS transmitter and receiver systems. Whether you want to buy one or not, the changes in GPS technology since it was first created it can be a fascinating topic to explore.