Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Global Positioning and Tracking

It is amazing how the GPS receiver changed the way we use maps. Since I got my Garmin nuvi 660 GPS receiver I stopped generating paper maps whenever I travel to a new place. I just take my nuvi with me and it does the job showing me how to find the address I need, as well as nearby gas stations, restaurants, shops, airports, and anything I need. In addition, it shows me the direction I am moving in, my speed and a moving map that tracks my position at all times within 2 meters accuracy. Just amazing!
Recently I found a free Palm PDA application called cotoGPS that allows a Bluetooth enabled PDA to interface with any Bluetooth enabled GPS receiver to get the NMEA (National Marine Electronic Association) data from it and process them to provide additional information such as satellite positions, area, tracking paths, speed and direction and a whole new set of other information that is displayed nicely on the PDA small screen.
Come to think of it, with the 24 medium range satellites circumventing the earth and providing the position information to GPS receivers on earth, there must be infinite possibilities for what you can do with that kind of information. Google Earth is one of these applications. Not only can you find any place on earth with Google Earth, but now you can also track paths on real images taken from satellites simply by using a GPS receiver that interfaces with Google Earth.
I am thinking what's next? The earth has become such a small village now with the advent of the Internet and GPS. Is the earth going to continue to shrink in size indefinitely? There must be a stopping mechanism that will limit this trend, don't you think?