GPS - Global Positioning System

The GPS Phenomenon
What stated out as the launch of experimental satellites in 1978 has grown into an actively broadcasting constellation of 30 as of February of 2007, helping pinpoint locations in terms of latitude and longitude with extreme precision. Global positioning and navigation has turned out to be quite an exciting technology giving rise to geographic information system (GIS), location-aware services and related applications. Let's try to play the satellites at their own game and track where global positioning technology stands today and how it is likely to evolve.

The Global Positioning System or GPS
Official Name NAVSTAR GPS - Short for Navigation Satellite Timing And Ranging Global Positioning System. By: The United States Department of Defense.GPS is a fully-functional global navigation satellite system set up and maintained by the US government for free use by all. It is a constellation of satellites orbiting the earth at a distance approximately 20,200 kilometers. GPS receivers on earth can receive the signals transmitting satellite at any point of time. When a receiver's distance from at least four satellites is known, the receiver's exact location, speed and direction, can be determined using a mathematical principle called trilateration.

Keeping Track with GPS Way
Global Positioning System is a technology that rapidly becoming a part of our vocabulary. It provides continuous three dimensional positioning round-the-clock, throughout the world, using 27 satellites orbiting the earth. Out of which, 24 are currently in operation and three extras in case of any failure.Initially developed and implemented by the US military, GPS has subsequently been opened up for the public. GPS was initially used for navigation, map-making and high risk situations. Using it as a part of your daily life seemed improbable, not only in terms of utility by also because the installation process was complex and difficult. However, today this technology is getting easier to use. Many GPS related companies no daunted by the possible hurdles in implementing this technology.

Future Directions
GPS will soon become a part of personal mobile phones and will guide people to reach their destinations easily. Mobile themselves will become personal tracking devices, though they won't be suitable for commercial use.Over the coming years, there is going to be a higher convergence between GPS and Internet technologies. Applications leveraging location aware services for local information access and commerce will surface. New advertising models will also be created using these technologies. These will lead to higher value creation for business and at the same time proved relevant and useful information to consumers. GPS-based devices coupled with rich applications have the potential to become a disruptive technology for local commerce.

A system of satellites similar to NAVSTAR GPS but potentially more advanced being developed by the European Union known as the European Galileo System as well as the Russian Glonass System will arrive as rivals to GPS. The future of GPS as a mainstream technology - More significant will be the proliferation of GPS-based applications and more devices that use GPS technology.

Possible Drawbacks
GPS technology might be time-tested but experts point out that there are problems to be overcome both at the technological and application levels. One major hitch is the non-availability of the system in many urban and forest areas due to satellite signal blockage. Solutions being tried for this include means to obtain a stronger GPS signal, and the use of pseudolites, which are GPS-like instruments which transmit GPS-like signals and which GPS receive can use. These can be used indoor GPS navigation as well.

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