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In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By kirbusmaximo
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Pages 6
GPS and the Future of Navigation

Table of Contents

Page 1 Introduction of Global Positioning Systems

Page 2 Early Usage

Page 3 Modern Usage

Page 4 Recreational Usage

Page 5 The Future of GPS

Page 6 References

Kirby Weeks
Professor Gupta
CS 300T Online
October 15th, 2012
GPS and the Future of Navigation GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, have revolutionized our society. They have completely replaced maps as a way to navigate while driving. Humans are explorers by nature, since the beginning of time. Navigation was first based on the sun, moon, and stars, by understanding their placements in the sky, we could have a sense of where we were, and where we were going. Then there was the compass. That along with a crude map could make it much easier to get from point A to point B. After that we had fully detailed maps with street names and addresses for even easier navigation. Now, we have GPS. GPS is the standard for navigation in our culture, it has completely changed the way we travel, and with all its amazing technological advances, it looks to be the standard for years to come. At the present time, almost everyone has a GPS. They are equipped standardly in new cars, they come as free apps on smart phones, or you can just buy one at your local Target or Wal-Mart for as cheap as a hundred dollars. And, once you buy the device, or have the software installed, there is no reoccurring bill. The ongoing service is completely free of charge. This makes it an easy purchase for people of all incomes levels. The GPS has made itself an integrated part of American culture; however, less than a decade ago, they were almost nonexistent. So how did this technology get started? First, for a GPS to function, it has to communicate with a satellite in space, orbiting the earth. There are currently thirty satellites positioned in key points, in orbit, all waiting to transmit information to your hand held device at any given time. They have specific timing mechanisms that make it so at least four are in position to receive a signal at any place on earth, at any time of the day. These satellites are 19,300 kilometers above the earth and orbit the earth twice, every day (Microsoft). All we have to do is press the “power on” button.
Originally, this technology was designed and used for government work. The United States Department of Defense was the first to put a satellite into space and use it for global positioning in 1978(MSN Gadgets 2). It wasn’t for another twenty years until civilians were allowed to use the signals broadcasted by the government satellites. In 2005, the first civilian GPS satellite was launched into space and this lead to the “boom” in popularity of the device. Since then, there have been much advancement in the GPS software and hardware interfaces including touch screen controls, voice recognition, and many others, but the main technology that make the GPS function, hasn’t changed. So how has the GPS changed our society? American’s never get lost! If you don’t know where a street is, use the touch screen and type, or with some newer models, just say the street address you need to get to, and within a matter of seconds, it has mapped out the entire route for you. Paper made maps are almost obsolete. Why go through all the trouble of trying to map a route out yourself, if you can just input it in, and have a computer do it for you. You can even look up places to eat, find lodging accommodations, or look up where to find the nearest gas station. You can change the navigation settings to avoid potential hazards such as U-turns, and dangerous one way streets. The route preference can be changed for “faster time” or “shorter distance” and the GPS has enough information to make these calculations accurately. Newer models even have traffic avoidances that will divert you to a different route if there is an accident on the highway. This means the GPS receiver is not only linked to a satellite in space, but also the internet for up to date traffic reports. Then the data is synced and the GPS informs the user to change course. The navigational properties are endless and only look to expand in the future. It has also spawned a new outdoor activity called Geocaching. Geocaching is like a GPS style, “hides and seek.” People place items and logbooks in containers, hide them, and then post the coordinates online. Then other geocachers will go online, upload the coordinates into their GPS device, and look for the treasure, or as they refer to it, the “cache.” Most items are of little monetary value, and the log book is there to put your name and date, and to see how many other people have found that treasure. Then all the geocachers share their experiences online. It has become an enjoyable activity for many, and the website, www.geocaching .com, boasts an average of 6.5 million “treasures found” every month (Groundspeak, Inc). With so many advantages of GPS’s in our society, the question inevitably arises, are there any disadvantages? As a United Parcel Service driver, I can say first hand that there are. People don’t know where they are! By typing in the address and having a computer map it out, then following it blindly, people just don’t learn their surroundings. I have had countless people ask me extremely trivial questions regarding directions. “Excuse me sir, my GPS died and I was wondering how to get to the grocery store.” I tell them three turns to make, and they have to get a pen and paper to write it down. The younger generations of Americans have become so reliant on their GPS device that they seem to not have the skills to navigate without it. It is just not a necessity to know your area anymore. Dependent upon how much you actually use your GPS, if it runs out of battery power, or just flat out breaks, you could be completely lost in your own town. However, maybe this is how things will be in the future. Perhaps, there will be no need to know street names, landmarks, or have any clue which direction you are driving. Most people have car chargers, and some people even have “backup” GPS receivers, just for that rare occasion that that the GPS they’re using were to malfunction or break. So the main disadvantage of using a GPS all the time can be easily negated by just making sure it’s always charged, and having a backup plan in case it breaks. The GPS has come a long way since its early military use in the 1970’s. It has changed the way our government gains intelligence, and how we get to the movies on a Friday night. The GPS phenomenon has even spread to less developed countries. India has their own set of satellites called the IRNSS, or Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, that are set to launch in 2014(MSN Gadgets 8). It is certainly one of the most significant inventions of the 21st century. I would hypothesize that GPS will soon no longer be just a first world luxury, but will be the standard for navigation for all people of the world. In today’s culture, the GPS has become so normal that we don’t realize all the technology that is needed to make it work. It is certainly an astonishing technology that will continue to revolutionize the way of culture operates, now, and in the years to come.


1. ^ "National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing". Retrieved 2010-10-15. 2. "GNSS Frequently Asked Questions - GPS." GNSS Frequently Asked Questions - GPS. N.p., 24 Aug. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <>. 3. "Find out How GPS Has Evolved and Changed Our Lives." How the GPS Has Evolved., 17 June 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. 4. "Geocaching." Geocaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <>. 5. "GPS Technology." GPS Technology. Beagle Software, 6 Apr. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <>. 6. "3... 2... 1... Liftoff!" Welcome to National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <>.…...

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