5 Ways GPS Technology Is Making Your Life Better
GPS, short for global positioning system, has for the most part made maps obsolete for everyday travel. Why would you print out MapQuest directions or pull out a travel atlas when all you need to do is punch the address of your destination into your navigation system or smartphone? While learning how to read a map is still a useful skill, it’s not something most of us want to spend the time doing.
GPS is useful for so much more than just getting you from point A to point B when you’re traveling. Read on for some of the ways GPS technology is changing your life for the better, without you even realizing it.
If you’ve ever broken down on the side of the road and tried to get in touch with AAA before the advent of GPS and cellphones, it usually sounded something like this:
“Um, yeah … I’m on the side of the interstate, somewhere around exit number 14, facing south.”
All you could do was hope for the best, and keep your fingers crossed that your roadside assistance company could find you based on your vague directions.
Using GPS, either in your smartphone or incorporated directly into your vehicle, can bring roadside assistance right to you with just the push of a button. And, without having to guess where your car might be sitting on a particular stretch of highway.
Companies like OnStar and other similar programs that are incorporated directly into the car can also send help or emergency services in the event of an accident. Some even activate whether you’re able to push the button or not.
Keep Things From Getting Lost
GPS isn’t just useful for keeping track of your car when you break down on the side of the road. It can also help you keep those things most precious to you from getting lost. GPS can keep track of your family members, pets and even your luggage!
- Elderly family members, especially those with dementia, are often prone to wandering. They can put themselves or others in jeopardy by doing so. If you’re worried about someone getting lost, there are a great variety of unobtrusive GPS tracking devices that you can use to help keep your loved ones safe and secure.
- Tracking collars for pets can help you keep track of your wandering fur babies. They allow you to use GPS technology to discover your furry friend’s location at any time.
- There are even some schools that are considering using GPS-enabled school uniforms to make sure students are attending. While it’s useful for keeping track of attendance, the idea hasn’t gained much momentum in the international market as of yet.
- An airline losing your luggage is the worst. Thankfully, many companies are now marketing GPS-enabled luggage tags. These make it easy to keep track of your important items no matter where they end up.
At this point, it’s not hard to find GPS-enabled tracking devices for anything that you might possibly lose at any point in your life.
Exercise is a lot easier for most of us when we’ve got our smartphone by our sides. You can listen to music, track your distances and activities, and still stay connected while you’re out and about. Why not use your GPS capabilities to create an augmented-reality (AR) exercise plan?
- Ingress by Niantic – This AR game uses your phone’s GPS capabilities to direct you to real-world locations that correspond to locations on your virtual map. Once there, you can solve puzzles and compete to take over and hold these locations from competing factions.
- Pokémon Go – Until now, Pokémon have been restricted to the various incarnations of the Gameboy. But this year, you’ll be able to use your smartphone to create an AR Pokémon-catching experience. You will be able to Catch ‘Em All just by walking around your neighborhood.
- Zombies Run – This app ties your phone’s GPS in with a variety of fully voice-acted missions that transport you into a world overrun by zombies. You are a runner for the township of Abel, one of the last human settlements after the zombie apocalypse. You have to leave the safety of the walled town in order to collect supplies for your companions. If you don’t run far enough or fast enough, you’re left to the mercy of the zombies.
These are just a few examples of the fantastic AR programs that are available on most smartphone platforms. Like many others, they couldn’t work without integrated GPS technologies.
Organize a Treasure Hunt
This sounds like it belongs in a piece on pirates, but you’d be surprised the kind of treasure hunts you can create and participate in just using your phone’s GPS technology.
Geocaching is a trend that has become popular in recent years, simply because so many people have GPS-enabled devices. It is, quite literally, a real-world treasure hunt. The organizer hides a container – called a geocache – in a specific location, and challenges others to find it, by providing nothing more than the GPS coordinates.
Other Uses for GPS Technology
What else can you use GPS technologies for, other than keeping track of your car or running from zombies?
- Tracking sharks – Ocearch has tagged nearly 50 sharks with GPS tracking devices, which transmit to overhead satellites each time their dorsal fins break the water long enough to transmit their location. You can keep track of these sharks by visiting the website or even following the individual sharks on Twitter.
- Tracking stolen property – Pharmacies are always a target for theft, but by using GPS-enabled prescription bottles, authorities can track down and arrest thieves and often retrieve stolen property as well.
- Find a good place to eat – Many apps like Yelp use your phone’s GPS and location settings to help you find the best places to eat, shop, or hang out based on your location alone. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a quick place to grab a bite.
- X marks the spot – If you’ve found the perfect place to hunt, fish or camp, it’s easy to mark the exact location on a map using GPS location settings so you can always find your way back.
These are just a few examples of the things you can do with GPS technology. How has this technology changed your life for the better? Tell us in the comments below!