We live in a fascinating age of new technologies which bring us all sorts of handy gizmos and labor saving gadgets. At times it is difficult to keep up with all the new innovations. One of these recent technological advancements is that of the GPS or Global Positioning System. GPS lets you know your exact location in the world with an accuracy of just a few meters. The applications for this technology are limitless. You can track exactly where you are and determine the precise route to where you want to be and receive constant tracking on your journey to ensure you stay on course. GPS systems are almost becoming a standard in todays new cars. GPS systems can even be installed in a small device like a cell phone.
For those who are not technically inclined, GPS may sound intimidating and too difficult to understand. It really isn\'t. The Global Positioning System was originally developed by the army for military application but has since found its way into everyday use. The GPS system is comprised of 24 satellites that orbit 12,000 miles above the earth. They travel in precise routes that take them around the world twice each day. Each satellite transmits a low power radio signal that the GPS devices on earth receive and interpret. They also relay signals back and forth between each other which allows a GPS unit to pinpoint its precise location. Imagine that every square meter on the earth has its own unique address. When you step into a new square, the GPS unit updates your new location by translating the satellite signals into geographic information. In order to get a 2D reading, the GPS unit must be in contact with at least 3 different satellites. To get a 3D reading of your location which includes the longitude, altitude, and latitude, your GPS unit must be communicating with at least 4 satellites.
GPS units are amazingly accurate, but how accurate are they? Most of the affordable models on the market today are accurate to a 10-15 meter radius. The more expensive models are accurate up to a 3 meter radius which makes for an extremely useful geographical tool. The various GPS manufacturers use different antennas which will have a part in how well the signal is received and how accurate it is.
GPS units are becoming more affordable as the technology comes into common use. There are some great GPS devices on the market today for under $200 which makes them affordable for a wide range of uses. They come in portable and handheld styles and can be used in cars and boats. You will find a style to suit your needs. Magellan and Garmin are the industry leaders and could be considered the Pepsi and Coke of the GPS world.