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Location Tracking

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Getting lost has become less of a concern over the years as technology involving location tracking keeps improving. The most commonly known location tracking technology is the Global Positioning System (GPS). However, this is not the only technology available for location tracking. In fact there are numerous others, and they all can be used for different purposes. Many companies use these technologies to track their goods as they are shipped to-and-fro from one place to another, something that would not have been possible a century ago. Not only is location tracking helping companies, it is also providing individuals with valuable services, one major example is that of maps installed on mobile devices that can help offer directions and routes to our desired destination.

Let us have a look at how GPS technology actually works. The Global Positioning System is made up of a constellation of 27 Earth-orbiting satellites, 24 are in use while 3 are additional in case there is a malfunction in one of the main ones. They were developed, not for the general public use, but for the United States military. However, they opened them for public use later on. These satellites orbit the Earth twice daily, and are solar powered. Now when you turn on a GPS receiver in a car, it locates three or more satellites, and by calculating the differences in distances between each, your location is arrived at. This method is a mathematical one called trilateration. For a more detailed explanation, check out this video which shows how GPS works

Another form of location tracking is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. These constitute tiny microchips that are passive until they come within reach of a reader. The readers transmit radio waves that activate the RFID tags (which are without batteries), and then transfer the information to a central database. The tags can store up to 2 kilobytes of information; they are made up of a chip and an antenna.  

RFID was used before to track cattle and big shipments; however, they are now used on daily products, and as the technology develops and becomes more and more cost effective, many envision a world where these tiny chips will be in every product we use. Some are for the use of this technology; however, others are wary for what it implies for personal privacy. Check both videos below to get an overview of the technology and the different opinions regarding it

What is RFID & How RFID Works: Narrated by Louis Sirico

Reference
electronics.howstuffworks.com

 

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