Technology has brought about revolution in the way humankind interacts with each other and the environment at large. From the invention of fire up to computer, and recently to internet, technology has proved to be a wave that is transforming the lives of people across the world. One of the most affected areas of human life is the way people communicate. The first position on this list belongs to the invention of the Morse code in telephony, which promised to remove the problem of distance for people who communicate with each other. This has revolved further to devices that are using intelligent systems like the Global Positioning System (GPS), which are not only facilitating communication between users, but are also able to provide more information like location, velocity and time between the users of the system. This paper discusses the impact of GPS on human lives and its future implications.
According to Parkinson, Spilker & Elkaim (2003), GPS is a positioning and timing system based on the use of satellite which facilitates radio receivers to locate four dimensions across the world. The four dimensions include: the latitude, longitude, altitude, and time within a clear view of the sky. The GPS system was developed and deployed by the United States Air Force in 1994, although the civil use of developmental signal started in the early 1980s. The principle behind the functioning of the GPS is founded on the uploading of 24 GPS satellites stationed on the ground and predicted positions, variously known as ephemeris or orbital parameters. Similarly, Parkinson, Spilker & Elkaim (2003) note that atomic clocks are also uploaded, which allows the broadcasting of information in form of data modulation on an l-band signal, which ensures that the signals are precise and one-way.
Moreover, Parkinson, Spilker & Elkaim (2003) note that ranging by GPS satellite signals is attained through synchronized start time of a pseudorandom sequence of bits with one nanosecond accuracy. According to Parkinson, Spilker & Elkaim (2003), this action allows GPS ranging to be one-way, so as to enable an infinite number of users to use the system without saturating it. In addition, it prevents the GPS receiver from radiating radio-frequency energy and also allows users to synchronize their local time with that of GPS.
Because of its advanced technology, GPS holds the potential of finding numerous applications in the future. So far the system is used in many devices, including mobile phones, navigation, home appliances and the technology has a great impact on the overall life of human beings. It is evident that social, economic, and political spheres of many societies across the world have been transformed through the use of GPS.
Future of GPS on Society
According to Consumer Report (2010), GPS technology is now packed with features which can be difficult to use for an ordinary person. But it is vital to give the future application a closer look, as the technology of GPS continues to capture the attention of consumers,. This will ensure that the use of GPS in future is in tandem with the needs prevailing at the time. The use of GPS is improving as more helpful hardware and software devices are developed. For instance, the text-to-mouth and lane assist functions, available now in many GPS devices, will help drivers to have information on the flow traffic. Similarly, Consumer Report (2010) indicates that GPS devices will facilitate an easy access to traffic information, with newer models of the device promising free services to their users. According to the Report: “at one time traffic info was available only by subscription, for about $60 per year” (2010). However the report indicates that this is going to change in future as more devices using GPS come in place.
According to Salehi (2009), GPS can have multiple uses as the technology continue to be picked up by both manufactures and consumers of many products that are posed to use the technology. He points out that several applications in which GPS has found use will be applicable in the future. Such applications will include virtual cables, GPS monitoring systems, and buddy services. He argues that this technology will find use in all devices used in homes. According to Salehi, this is because even though the idea is old and already has a number of applications, its use is expected to rise due to increased number of mobiles being built in this system.
Similarly, Salehi (2009) noted that GPS devices are increasingly becoming common in people’s everyday life. According to him, ten new uses of the GPS devices can be identified. In such way, the future of GPS is promising, as more uses of the technology are brought on board. For instance, Salehi points to niche recipients, such as in bicycle manufacturing, where many manufacturers are picking up the use of GPS in their bicycles.
Another feature that is going to influence the use of GPS in future is the increasing availability of GPS software, which allows various uses to be explored. For instance, Salehi (2009) notes that many cell phones are going to use GPS and many others are already using it. Some mobile phones are already using wireless systems to connect with other devices. However, Hambling (2011) cautions that the future of GPS may not be as promising as it looks, owing to many incidences where GPS has failed. Hambling observes that “a lot more is lost in navigation when GPS fails” (2011). He also cites a case where traffic controllers in an airport found their GPS system malfunctioning, while there were incoming planes. He further points out the chaos that can be created in a harbor after the failure of traffic management system which uses GPS to direct the movement of ships. Additionally, cases of ATM refusal have been reported where GPS systems fail. Mobile phone users have also found themselves without signals in places where GPS fails.
The above scenarios indicate that the future of GPS depends on the research that will be done in the area to avoid incidences where the technology threatens to create chaos and disrupt the activities in work places.
Impact of GPS on People’s Life
According to Grootscholten (2008), GPS technology has influenced the lives of many people, transforming how they carry out daily activities. He notes changes in socio economic and political sphere where GPS is applied. For instance, Salehi (2009) notes that it is now possible for people to find shopping carts by getting a map of store’s shelves using GPS. In this way, they can compare the prices of various shops before stepping out for shopping. Similarly, Salehi (2009) notes that buying of goods has been simplified with GPS, where people can access shopping lists from various stores using GPS and compare the prices or even get tips on best shops.
Similarly, Hambling (2011) has noted that GPS is transforming social lives by facilitating communication between people in homes and workplaces. Hambling observes that: “GPS now helps you to power your home, withdraw cash, and even call your mother” (2011). Through the GPS-enabled cell phones, it is possible to have the location of people who are lost or even give direction to particular places.
Additionally, Grootscholten (2008) notes that GPS technology has influenced the political lives by enabling precise delivery of weapons and other requirements to soldiers in war fronts. This is used by the United States Air Force in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. For instance, Hambling (2011) notes that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) uses radio pulses to gain smooth navigation in caves and tunnels while using submarines. Noticeably, Hambling (2011) argues that the use of GPS has affected how buildings are constructed due to the attempt to cater for the GPS signals’ transmission. Similarly, Salehi (2009) argues that GPS has transformed how traffic is monitored on the roads by allowing motorists to have a view of lanes before they approach them. It has also changed tracking of vehicles delivering goods from one place to another by monitoring their movements.
From the above discussion, it is evident that the future of GPS depends on the concerted research in the field. However, it is clear that the area provides a good ground to solve many of the challenges that people are currently facing. GPS will transform not only the social lives of people but also economic and political lives of society and the way business is done. It is also evident that the application of GPS technology will continue to increase as new applications are discovered and put in use.