Understanding How GPS Technology Actually Works in Practice

GPS Technology

Hundreds of millions of people rely on GPS technology to get where they’re going every single day. Whether on their phones, tablets, or dedicated GPS devices, geolocation tech is a vital part of getting from A to B in the 21st century.

But how many of us understand how it actually works?

When it comes down to it, very few of us really understand the GPS equipment we use every day. But that’s about to change! Stay tuned and keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the different types of GPS and telematics tracking!

What is GPS Technology Used For?

We’re surrounded by all sorts of geolocation and GPS equipment pretty much all day. You’re definitely familiar with the kind that powers ubiquitous tools like Google Maps and Apple Maps, but there’s also a load of other, more particular uses that GPS technology is put to, like GNSS testing and others.

For example, did you know that the trucking industry tends to use a completely different set of GPS and telematics tracking equipment to ordinary drivers? There’s plenty of reason for this, like needing to get particular goods to their destination in certain timeframes. But more than that, trucks need to use routes that accommodate their significant height and weight.

After all, a trucker using a GPS app designed for a car is bound to run into a bridge he can’t cross or pass beneath at some point.

How Does GPS Technology Work?

GPS equipment works using a method called ‘triangulation’. Put simply, there are a bunch of GPS satellites in the air that your phone (or other bit of GPS tech) can ping at any time. GPS works by figuring out how long it takes the signal from 3 or more of those satellites to hit your phone (thus ‘triangulation’, referring to the three points of a triangle).

If you’re 10 seconds away from one satellite’s signal, that gives a very rough guess as to where you are. 8 seconds from another, and the possible area you could be in narrows. 9 seconds from a third, and the possible locations you could be in narrow down to an absolutely tiny patch of earth, and that gets shown on your GPS equipment.

You can bring more satellites into the process, of course, and by doing so you can add data like your elevation and other such nice-to-knows. When it comes down to it, though, it’s just a bunch of timers in the sky!

GPS for the Masses

So there you go, a quick guide to the uses and functions of GPS technology. Whether you need to know how it works for professional reasons, or you’re curious about how on earth your phone always knows where you are, now you know!

Thanks to those satellites, we’ll never get lost again!

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BSV Staff

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