“Did you use Google Maps to get here? We did that GPS thing”
That is how the session started today at UT Dallas as we were taken through just some of the amazing achievements that the UT Dallas students have been involved with.
GPS technology has been around since the 1970’s with the technology’s prototypes dating back even further and since GPS has moved from the army to our phones. We would literally be lost without this little invention.
I remeber watchin James Bond movies where a tiny box would be stuck under the vilian’s car and a bleep would appear on a large monitor allowing the good guys to track the vehicle to a specific city block! We have come a long way from that. Researchers from the University of California believes that location accuracy will be enhanced to such an extent in the very near future that the error margin will be reduced to a few centimeters (currently, this error margin is measured in meters).
The components that make GPS tracking possible have become smaller and cheaper over time to the point that you can now track virtually anything. With the ever increasing GPS accuracy, we now see how GPS tracking can be integrated even further into our every day lives:
- GPS technology is extremely beneficial in the recovery of stolen bikes, cars, skateboards and even phones and laptops.
- Parents are making use of GPS tech to keep track of their children for that extra piece of mind in that public park.
- Security forces such as police and army are able to keep an watchful eye over their officers while firefighters are keeping track of their firefighters in emergency situations.
- Going for run or a cylce? you can use many apps on your phone to keep a log of your activity.
What about privacy?
While some application on our phones are already tracking our every movement and even revealing it inadvertently, in reality every digital footprint we leave is a trace of where we have been and what we have done. Used your Credit card? Tracked. Drive through a toll road? Tracked. Used your phone to make a call? Tracked. You get the idea.
There are active discussions raging on about where the line should be drawn between privacy, security and business. Recently, MoviePass’ CEO had to issue an apology for his comments about being able to track his customers. The company had removed that “feature” from its iOS app.
So in summary:
Yes, I use GPS. Yes, I allow Google and others to track my location. And yes, they serve me location-based ads based on my habits. I am ok with that. Some people are not and they uninstall these types of apps and services. And that’s ok too.
As our tech continues to evolve and GPS gets embedded even further into hardware, we will continue to see an even more connected world where devices communicate with devices leaving the human out of the equation. As you drive home, you car will alert your home’s acirconditioning system to switch on while your favourite meal is being ordered just in time for your to collect it. All made possible with the power of GPS.