Originally conceived for the military in the 1970s, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is now a ubiquitous technology that is used in a variety of consumer applications such as car navigations systems, sports devices, freight tracking, child tracking and mobile map applications. The technology hinges on data transmitted from a number of satellites which, when combined, work together to pinpoint your location on a device.
There are a total of 29 satellites that circle the earth twice a day, but a GPS only needs information from 3 to recognize where you are. Each of these 3 satellites calculates the distance between itself and your receiver, allowing the receiver to narrow down the area of your location until it is finally able to determine your exact position.
GPS was first used to help military personnel and transportation units, and it wasn’t until 2000 that its popularity boomed commercially. That year, the U.S. military ended the practice of deliberately degrading satellite signals to prevent potential enemies from taking advantage of the technology.
As the accuracy of GPS improved, so did its applications as a civilian tool. Most of us have used a GPS navigator in a car to map the best route to our destination. Today, GPS navigation systems even come pre-installed in new car models. If you don’t have a GPS in your car, you most likely have one in your smartphone. The same technology allows you to take advantage of mobile mapping applications that help you find your way.
Beyond navigators, GPS technology has even expandedinto the world of sport. Athletes and amateurs alike use GPS devices to help them quantify their successes. Runners use them to calculate miles run; cyclists use them to map routes; golfers use them to gauge the number of yards to the next hole; and hunters use them to discover entire forests.
GPS technology also helps us track people in emergencies. In 1999, the Federal Communications Commission required cell phone companies to include a way to track people when they make 911 calls. A number of companies have even developed GPS child trackers, such as the Spark Nano, which can be slipped into a child’s pocket or backpack to give parents real-time updates on their activities.
GPS technology also gives people a greater degree of control in the shipping process, whether their packages are traveling by land, air or sea. Thanks to GPS, businesses can monitor the location of their valuable freight, as well as its condition and security. Customers can easily track parcels with the click of a mouse, and even get accurate estimates of delivery.
As a specialist in the design, development and manufacture of advanced electronic controls, Etratech has years of experience with the components of GPS technology, especially circuit boards. Through the years, we’ve become experts in the field and have demonstrated a proven ability to optimize existing components, make process improvements and provide our customers with tangible benefits.
For more information about how our engineers can help you design and build a circuit board for your specific GPS application, please contact us today.