The ability of smartphones to track your location may seem like cutting-edge technology. You might be surprised to learn that this function actually relies on methods dating back to the 1970’s. Scientists are currently on a mission to bring location technology into the 21st century. Here’s a look at where we are now and where we’re headed.

A primer on location tracking

gps trackingThe big boss of location tracking is GPS. Your phone translates signals beamed down from a network of 24 satellites to calculate your location. Unfortunately, GPS is a bit too robust for smartphones. It’s a huge battery drain and obstructions can hamper performance. Forget about trying to use it indoors.

WiFi provides a reasonable workaround by detecting nearby systems and cross-referencing them against databases that contain their locations. This method isn’t as accurate as GPS but requires much less power.

One solution is providing access to additional satellite systems. All iPhones since 4S and many Android models include a chip that uses GLONASS, the Russian equivalent of GPS. This system doesn’t offer any additional functionality, but it improves your chances of picking up an open signal.

Solving the puzzle of indoor location 

However, no amount of satellite systems can resolve the problem of indoor location, which would open the door to a number of invaluable applications. Imagine having your phone map out the most efficient route around the supermarket based on your shopping list. Thermostat and lighting systems could become touch-free; making adjustments based on where you are in your home.

Researchers are again counting on WiFi in developing a workable solution. Antennas installed throughout a building create a grid that makes tracking far more accurate. This technology works both ways by feeding information to a business showing customer activities.

IndoorAtlas offers a method that’s less hardware-intensive, using a building’s unique magnetic field to geo-locate smartphones, most of which already include magnetometers. Others are using the theory that if one is good, many are better. BAE Systems and AlterGeo combine a mix of methods including electromagnetics, WiFi,  cellphone towers, GSM and LTE.

GPS is still the gold standard for tracking vehicles and other large equipment. Rely on GPSTrackIt and our state-of-the-art systems for your business’s GPS tracking and asset protection. Even as technology changes, GPSTrackIt will stay the industry leader – leading the way for keeping businesses moving with advanced tracking technology and monitoring tools.

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