Following maps and chalking out travel plans are a thing of the past. GPS technology is all set to revolutionize our world. Though GPS tracking systems have been around for more than a couple of decades, it is in the past few years that GPS tracking devices are available to consumers for commercial use. With portable GPS tracking devices, you can map probably most of the places on the globe.
Smart clothing and accessories and vehicle GPS tracking devices have made it possible to track down a person or article to precise locations. No longer are GPS tracking devices the pursuit of only gadget freaks. Today they are widely used to chalk travel plans, track employees and family members and monitor movement of goods and services. But this also raises fears of unscrupulous invasion of people's privacy.
Device GPS tracking
GPS devices come in varying sizes, complexities and prices. Prices can range from a hundred to many thousands of dollars. Selecting a GPS tracking device hinges on the use you wish to put it to. A lightweight and portable GPS tracking device is ideal for hiking trip or adventure sports while a vehicle tracking GPS device can help in navigating you during your holiday. Test out the GPS device for its accuracy and ease of use.
Use GPS tracking devices to record your adventure hiking trail or the secret fishing spot for a return trip. You can use them to locate your exact position, well nearly exact location on the Earth. Tracking devices with additional features can provide you with built-in electronic compass and topographic maps. Garmin GPS software allows you indications for highways, roads, hiking and backwoods trails, churches and schools. You can also locate small water bodies, rivers and streams.
Google Earth, an innovative product from Google, "offers maps and satellite images for complex or pinpointed regional searches". This product uses slices of well detailed satellite images and stitches them together to render a fly-through over your street topography - unimaginable for civilian usage even a few years ago. Some GPS devices made by Garmin and Magellan allow you to import your waypoint and track data into Google Earth. This integration allows you to create better and precise route maps using some of the built-in functions of the Google application.
GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) system involves a group of 24 satellites that constantly transmit microwave signals of their location at any given time. A GPS receiver must determine exactly how long it takes for the signals to travel from each GPS satellite. If the receiver can receive a signal from at least 3 satellites simultaneously, it can help in locating its position with sufficient accuracy to about + or - 100 feet. The US DOD (Department of Defense) which is responsible for the design and deployment of these GPS satellites, deliberately adds certain amount of skew to degrade the accuracy for civilian applications. But many of the GPS receivers can improve the accuracy by extrapolating additional information.
GPS tracking devices take on a new dimension when combined with other broadcast technology such as radio. If the GPS tracking device is fitted with a transmitter, the location information can be broadcast to a base station. GPS watches can double up as GPS receivers and radio transmitters. GPS tracking data can be sent over analog cellular phones, dialup cellular connections or even as SMS messages. GPS on cell phones and PDA devices allow the user's position to be mapped and tracked.
This helps the ambulance, police or other emergency services to track the person in case of need. Parents use this with kids or patients with Alzheimer's. Use GPS tracking on your cell phones to locate a specialty cuisine restaurant nearby or even a medical facility. A user of a portable GPS tracking device can keep track of where he has been in case he needs to retrace his path later.
GPS Vehicle Tracking
GPS vehicle tracking units are integrated to the electronics of the automobile so as to provide the driver with a precise navigation system. A car tracking device powered by GPS technology allows the position data from the vehicle to be stored on the device or sent to a receiving station. Recent versions of GPS car tracking systems have fast TTFF and consume lesser power. Large volumes of records can be stored. This type of GPS tracking system allows excellent fleet management, asset tracking, timing reference and aids in a host of other functions. Industries such as distribution, food and beverage, trucking, sales organizations, emergency services, surveyors, realtors and utility services are relying on GPS tracking devices to monitor the movement of their goods and services.
GPS car tracking devices can help with driving directions, or help find a stolen car. This also works well for navigating a driver to the nearest service station in case of automobile problems. In fact if the system relays telemetry information such as the status of the engine, last service and defect, a probable diagnosis can be made instantaneously.
Another interesting ability of the GPS vehicle tracking device is to track people. This has raised some amount of controversy in that it is intrusive and infringes on a person's right to privacy. A passive GPS car-tracking device can be inconspicuously placed in the glove box or under the seat. It allows you to monitor the vehicle movements and gives you an accurate picture of where the car was driven and the timings. You can't get taken for a ride by tricky employees, naughty teenagers and cheating spouses any more. Travel fleet managers can monitor their vehicle movements and track employee misuse. Fuel bills, mileage and time sheets can be verified with GPS tracking devices. Insurance companies and car rental companies are increasingly using GPS vehicle tracking to control speeding cars and reckless driving.
But how many of us would like a car rental agency to track the places and people we visit, the restaurants we eat at and the hotels we sleep in? States like California and Connecticut have enacted laws that restrict leasing companies from installing GPS vehicle tracking devices. While they can be used for tracking stolen vehicles, it is not permitted to impose fines and penalties based on GPS tracking data. This law is applicable in New York too. Other states are currently contemplating similar legislation.