Are GPS Units Still Relevant?
Ninety years after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, another technological revolution happened. In the mid-1960s, amid the Cold War, the United States Navy started tracking submarine locations with satellite navigation systems.
This technology would eventually become GPS.
In the years that followed, GPS became a ubiquitous part of human life. The military might have pioneered this technology, but the automobile industry turbocharged it. Soon, GPS systems appeared in cars, trucks, buses, and boats. They were able to pinpoint a vehicle's precise location in mere milliseconds. Then came smartphones and then smartwatches. Now, you can find GPS in everything from ATMs to shipping containers. People use it to locate their loved ones, find their nearest Starbucks, and discover buried treasure.
All that might answer the title of this blog post: Are GPS Units Still Relevant? But the truth is a little more complicated. GPS certainly still has relevance, but it depends on how, when, and where you use it.
The Decline of Conventional GPS Units
Most people associate the term 'GPS units' with big bulky navigational devices like TomTom and Garmin. You place these units in your vehicle, play with a few settings and let the technology drive you to your intended destination. GPS units like these have fallen out of fashion in the last few years, with some drivers replacing in-car devices with smartphones that essentially do the same thing.
That's not to say in-car GPS units are dead. Some drivers prefer their large screens and more detailed maps. Plus, many automobile manufacturers pre-install these devices in vehicles, making them ever-present in peoples' lives. However, more than half of motorists with built-in GPS units have never used them, according to one study, which questions the relevancy of these once highly sought-after gadgets.
The Rise of the Smartphone
The smartphone has inevitably led to the decline of some GPS technologies. When Apple and Google released mapping services in smartphones in the early 2010s, users could search for specific locations without a TomTom, marking a new era of GPS technology. Both companies have since updated their navigational technologies, making it easier for people to plan journeys in real-time. Bus timetables and Uber drivers are now accessible with a few swipes of a finger. Motorists and pedestrians can both avoid the busiest routes to their destinations. People can tag their location in social media photos.
Conventional GPS units and smartphone GPS work similarly. Devices receive location data from a collection of GPS satellites that orbit the Earth twice a day. Each one broadcasts signals and parameters that allow TomToms and iPhones to work out the exact location of that satellite. A process called trilateration then calculates the user's location.
The Future of GPS
As technologies get smarter, GPS will likely evolve. New satellites are launching in space all the time with the ability to provide humans with even more accurate positioning data. That's because the atomic clocks on board each of these satellites have more transmitter power than ever before.
GPS will also extend to more industries. Scientists can now place GPS tags on animals to ascertain their locations and farmers can attach GPS units to tractors to map the position of seeds.
"GPS now underpins a surprising amount of our everyday lives," says the BBC. "In its simplest form, it tells us where on Earth at any time a GPS receiver is. We have them in our mobile phones and cars. They enable boats to navigate their way through difficult channels and reefs, like a modern-day lighthouse. Emergency services now rely upon GPS to locate those in distress."
GPS trackers are one technology that remains relevant. These small, sturdy devices attach to almost anything — a box, commercial vehicle, package, golf course equipment, you name it — and provide location data via a smartphone app. Increasing crime rates in some locations are fueling the demand for GPS tracking devices. When you attach a tracker to a high-value item such as a new car or boat, you can monitor its location at all times and even receive notifications if the valuable leaves its environment.
You can do all kinds of things with GPS trackers:
- Locate loved ones who have gone missing
- Find stolen, lost, or misplaced equipment
- Provide evidence of a stolen item to law enforcement or an insurance company
- Monitor drivers who deliver packages to customers
- Share location data with customers, clients, and partners
These trackers do what in-car GPS units and smartphones can't do. They tell you the location of anything you attach to them. And that helps you locate assets, inventory, and other valuables quickly.
LandAirSea has pioneered GPS technology since 1994, long before smartphones became popular. Today, the company serves various industries, providing tracking solutions that improve safety, asset protection and inventory management.
GPS-enabled trackers provide real-time insights into the location of your prized possessions. For example, you can find out whether a company vehicle arrived at its location on time. Or, discover if someone steals inventory from your warehouse.
Using one of these trackers is simple. Receive location notifications on your smartphone or go into an app to learn about your assets. All the information you need is at your fingerprints.
LandAirSea's GPS trackers include:
You can attach these trackers to almost any item with the provided magnets or adapter cables.
Some of the benefits of using these trackers include:
- Know where your assets are at any given time
- Prevent loss or theft in your organization
- Improve driver routes and other workflows
So, are GPS units still relevant? The answer is yes and no. GPS technology is still part of day-to-day life. People use their smartphones to find a restaurant and protect their possessions with a GPS tracker. However, some products such as in-car GPS units are becoming less popular. With technology developing all the time, it's uncertain what the future will hold. However, GPS will continue to play a pivotal role in navigation.
Learn more about LandAirSea's range of GPS trackers for security, asset protection and inventory management.