Since President Ronald Reagan and his administration made GPS tracking technology available to the public in the mid-1980s, its use has continued to become more integrated into our lives. For most people, it remains associated with mapping and navigation functions, but enterprising individuals have found some truly creative ways to use the technology.

Here is a look at just a few of these inventive ideas. See if they trigger your imagination to begin thinking of some unconventional uses.

Virtual shark patrol

An organization named OCEARCH has tagged nearly 50 great white sharks with GPS devices that send an alarm to local lifeguards if one approaches the shore. Researchers are also gaining valuable information about the movement and habits of sharks. You can track them yourself at the OCEARCH website or just wait for Discovery Channel‘s next “Shark Week”.

Decoy for pharmaceutical thieves

Black market demand for painkillers like OxyContin has made drug stores an attractive target for thieves. New York City police came up with an ingenious way to trap these crooks with GPS devices concealed in fake oxycodone bottles. Robbers generally grab several bottles, unaware of the decoy that allows police to track them.

Protecting Nativity scenes

Sadly, even churches and religious organizations are not immune to theft and vandalism. Since 2005, A security company in New York has tried to remedy that by providing free GPS devices that send an email or text message to the owner along with a tracking signal to the police when the Baby Jesus figurine is stolen.

Keep tabs on patients with dementia

Family members and caregivers of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can gain some piece of mind by fitting the patient with GPS Smart Soles. These shoes track the wearer’s location and set up geofences to keep them within a designated area.

Encourage responsible sexual behavior for teens

As unwanted pregnancies and STDs continue to be a problem, public health officials are using teenagers’ love of smartphones to make prevention methods more accessible. Some communities have begun using apps that provide locations of clinics that distribute condoms and practical advice.

Be sure to follow us for the latest news on the continuing expansion of GPS usage in unique and unexpected ways.