What You Should Know About GPS

April 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm 1 comment

Wikipedia’s basic technical definition of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is as follows: “The GPS is a U.S. space-based global navigation satellite system. It provides reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services to worldwide users on a continuous basis in all weather, day and night, anywhere on or near the Earth which has an unobstructed view of four or more GPS satellites.”

But GPS is much more than that. When I hear the phrase “GPS”, I immediately think about cars that have the devices in them, and the mountable GPS. I think about cell phones that are GPS-enabled, which can help locate you if you get lost. The GPS of today is all that and then-some. The GPS of tomorrow knows no bounds.

What is Possible with Today’s GPS?

  • Global position can accurately track you within 50 meters.
  • You can receive alerts or announcements depending on your location – Example: North Face allowing you to opt-in to receive alerts and promotions when you are near one of their stores. Check out this NY Times article.
  • GPS can track how long you stay at a location.
  • GPS allows for constant tracking of your whereabouts – Example: Verizon Family Locator. “The Family Locator features Arrival & Departure update capabilities which work based off of Locations which you define such as school, home or work. When the Family Member carrying the Family Locator Family Member phone arrives at or leaves a Location, you can be notified via Text Message or Email. In addition, you can also elect to receive Scheduled Updates at specific dates and times.”

What Could Be Possible with Tomorrow’s GPS?

“Augmented reality” is a pretty big buzz phrase being thrown around at the moment. The idea behind augmented reality in relation to GPS is that users with GPS-enabled mobile devices will be able to hold them up and see information in the virtual world, and they will be able to leverage this information in the actual world.

Here’s an example. Imagine you are walking down the street in and see a restaurant way down at the end. You want to know what kind of food they serve/if they have any special deals before you go all the way to the restaurant. What do you do? Hold up your phone, so that the viewfinder can see the restaurant. Not only can see the day’s specials, but you can see the hours, types of beers they have, and restaurant reviews.

Think it couldn’t happen? Yelp is already doing it with the iPhone! Be sure to check out the video on the page!

There are still a lot of bugs with the application, but as more and more similar applications are developed, more phones adopt them, and technology progresses, this augmented reality feature will be just as common as wearing pants. Okay, maybe not that common, but as common as devices are used for communicating and information-finding now.

Possible Problems with the Use/Misuse of GPS

  • Crime due to too much information being revealed: With people’s every location being posted through social media applications, we know where they are not: their home. PleaseRobMe.com aims to let people know that they are sharing too much information. Time actually posted an article about this very issue here.
  • Crime due to misuse of the GPS: These tools can be used by criminals to exert control over people and track them for harmful purposes. Also, not saying that this will happen, but other governments (and even our own) could use global positioning for non-peaceful purposes, if you know what I mean.
  • Be bombarded by advertising: We’re bombarded by advertising in every medium we use–books, magazines, the Internet, the radio, television and so on. It’s no surprise that pretty soon advertisers are going to start buying space in augmented reality. For example, Budwiser may point out all the places that sell their brews on any given street. Yes, many brands are allowing for users to “opt-in”, but in the future we may not have this option.

What do you think about all of this GPS business? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Do you see yourself using the augmented reality features often?


Entry filed under: COM 580- Contemporary Media Issues. Tags: , .

Citizen and Participatory News as a Generative System Will Living in a Hyperconnected Society Bring Families Closer Together?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Noomps  |  April 21, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Thank you so much for your information.


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