Global positioning technology has come a long way in the past decade. Systems that once required several components and feet of wires can now be mounted on a dashboard of a vehicle, put in your pocket and even worn on your wrist. GPS watches help people customize workout routines, track vital statistics, and in general provide a better quality exercise. We use Global Positioning Technology in our everyday lives whether we realize it or not.
GPS is nothing new but getting the technology to the point where it can fit into a watch has taken a lot of time and hard work. As with many other consumer products, global positioning systems started out as a military endeavor using satellites and state of the art computer equipment back in the late 70’s. The primary motivation for the creation of this type of technology was to increase the accuracy of computer guided weapons such as missiles. The government also needed a better way to strategically move large forces and monitor the location of strategic military assets. When first introduced, these systems were not called GPS but NavStar.
The applications for GPS technology have become numerous. When the average person hears the term GPS, they may think of the nifty little gadgets that get them from point A to B. The technology however is deployed in many other industries. Virtually all cell phones now rely on GPS technology for location services and synchronization of time. Aircraft rely on GPS chips within their computers to transmit and accept location information relative to the airspace within which they are traveling. Ships at sea no longer use lighthouses to determine whether they are a safe distance from the shore but the Global Positioning system and the business world utilizes these systems to keep track of employees, product and assets.
Up until the mid 80’s, global positioning technology was controlled by the military. After this period, plans for a GPS system that was accessible by the public were put into the works. There are currently about 31 satellites in orbit serving more than a billion GPS enabled devices including those of us sporting a GPS running watch. As technology improves, the applications for GPS technology grow exponentially. Currently, the smallest unit ever created is even tinier than systems installed in a watch and can fit on the head of a pin. Enterprising businesses plan to install tech this small in devices like digital cameras to aid in location based photography services, a process known as geo-tagging.