The global positioning system (GPS) is a technology developed by the United States Department of Defense that uses satellites to triangulate geographic locations on Earth. Since this technology became available for civilian use, many companies have developed GPS gadgets for retail sale, including mapping devices, tracking bracelets and internal GPS systems for laptop computers and smartphones. Devices utilizing GPS technology have become essential for industries that need accurate geolocation data. GPS gadgets also are popular for personal use and make a thoughtful gift for technology enthusiasts.
The first widespread civilian application of GPS technology was the development of satellite navigation systems. These electronic devices typically feature an extensive database of maps and are designed for use when driving, boating, flying or hiking. Many travelers use these gadgets to help navigate new cities and plan highway routes. Hikers and backpackers may find a handheld GPS useful in finding remote campsites and avoiding getting lost in rough country. The release of affordable GPS navigation systems also has led to the emergence of a hobby known as geocaching, which involves finding hidden items at a designated geographic position.
Many businesses have employed GPS gadgets to gain more accurate geographic data and enhance existing industry practices. GPS devices allow fishing boats to return easily to productive spots and help them avoid maritime hazards. The transportation industry has been able to find better routes for cargo vessels and more accurately predict when they will reach their destinations. In densely populated areas, GPS systems may include real-time traffic data, which can help alleviate congestion during a commute.
GPS trackers capable of transmitting location data also have become popular for both the home and business. These GPS gadgets allow a user to track a valuable item, pet or person to avoid them being lost or stolen. Many cars and trucks feature GPS tracking systems to help catch car thieves or to follow an employee’s movements during business hours. Concerned parents or pet owners can use a tracking bracket or collar that can help find a lost loved one.
The development of the smartphone and cellphone-enabled laptop computers has led to the further spread of GPS gadgets. These devices take advantage of the GPS system and cellular data service to provide unique geolocation-based services to users. Specialized applications allow users to record and publish their location data on social networks, as well as find nearby shopping, restaurants and points of interest.