• Although using standalone GPS navigation systems in the car is quite convenient, the number of people using their smartphones for navigation is steadily increasing. In a survey conducted by the market research company J.D. Power and Associates in 2013, it was found that the number of car owners using smartphone navigation apps increased from 37% in 2011 to 47% in 2012. Using a smartphone navigation app is a low-cost option when compared to using a GPS navigation device to get the best driving directions. All you need is a dashboard or windshield mount and then place your smartphone in it whenever you need to use the app.

    The features of most smartphone navigation apps include advanced lane guidance that indicates exit lanes and complex multiple lane maneuvers, routing options, walking mode for pedestrians, full-route display, traffic data, and live traffic updates. While there are free navigation apps such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, they do not have offline navigation features. To use these apps, there needs to be a constant internet connection. However, with paid navigation apps, the best driving directions will be shown even when there is no SIM card in the smartphone. Here are some of the most popular smartphone GPS apps that are known to show the best driving directions:

    • HERE WeGo: This is a free navigation app. Its features include an easy-to-use interface and simple design. This is one of the rare free navigation apps that show the best driving directions even when there is no data connectivity. Other features of this app include showing live traffic information, customizing and saving places on the map for later use, and displaying public transit maps.
    • MapFactor: This is another free navigation app. With OpenStreetMap, this app pulls free offline maps every month depending on the user’s preference. This app has features such as basic navigation, voice directions, day and night themes, cross-border routing, and 2D and 3D modes. The paid version of this app gives access to additional maps.
    • MapQuest GPS Navigation and Maps: This is one of the oldest known navigation apps for showing the best driving directions with steady and sturdy service. The features of this app include a standard turn-by-turn direction, notifications to find cheaper gas, live traffic updates, and re-routing directions based on the live traffic information.
    • Polaris GPS Navigation: This is an all-in-one navigation app since it sources navigation data from OpenStreetMap, Cycle Route Maps, MapQuest maps, and Google Maps. The features of this app include the standard turn-by-turn directions, trail recording, and multiple coordinate formats.

    All the above apps are compatible with Android smartphones.

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  • Automotive navigation systems have come a long way; they are now smarter and more affordable than the GPS systems manufactured five years ago. The low production cost has led many auto manufacturers to incorporate built-in navigation systems in the newer car models. A good-quality dedicated GPS navigation device on a car’s dashboard gives the best driving directions and helps to reach the required destination without any glitches.

    A GPS navigation device has a GPS receiver, a display screen for maps and driving instructions, a speaker, a computer-based processor, and a map database. Almost all navigation systems use the same mapping data in their database. The difference lies in how the data is displayed in each model and how a user can use the data. Here are a few popular GPS devices have been known to give the best driving directions:

    • TomTom Go 600: This is a high-end GPS navigation system with a price of around $200. It has a 6-inch display screen that shows 3-D maps and gives live traffic information. Other features include a pinch-to-zoom display, an easy-to-read interface, and advanced lane guidance. This navigation system gives lifetime map updates for North America.
    • Garmin DriveAssist 50 LMT: This one of the most innovative navigation systems that show the best driving directions. Its features include handling navigation, giving real-time navigation alerts, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and “Go Alert” warnings for distracted drivers. Also, it has a built-in dashboard camera. All these features are available for the price of an entry-level GPS navigation system. The price of this system is around $300.
    • Magellan SmartGPS 5390: This popular GPS navigation system has been around in the market for quite some time now. With a drop in the price, this navigation system packs in a lot of useful features at an affordable price; the features include social media and Bluetooth integration, connecting with Foursquare and Yelp to display information regarding shops and restaurants in the area, and displaying gas stations with the lowest fuel. The price of this system is around $157.
    • 2016 Tesla Model X: This is one of the most powerful navigation systems that is known to give the best driving directions. It has a super-responsive voice-command system that barely takes time to set up the best directions. It also has a smart pop-up feature that gives options for alternate routes in case there is traffic as any other problems in the usual route. With a price of around $59,100, this navigation system has a large touchscreen system, which has become a standard feature.
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  • A survey by the ATA (American Trucking Association) found that the productivity benefits to a trucking company ranged from 5% to more than 25% when the fleet management used real-time GPS tracking systems. As per the ATA, not only did customer service improve due to better on-time deliveries, but also customer pick-up requests were faster using GPS tracking.

    While owners of businesses have numerous fleet tracking providers to choose and select from, it is important for them to think carefully about their business objectives and how to align them using GPS fleet management, how they could change in the future, how to choose drivers, train them and streamline the system for it to be cost-efficient and effective. Listed below are some tips to choose and settle on a GPS vehicle tracking system:

    Understanding and setting fleet management goals: This takes a good amount of research, but the more precise that fleet owners are, the better the chances they have to choosing what will help them and their business the best. Owners should inquire with each department what information they want regarding the fleet during a working day, and identify the most critical problems, which include improving customer satisfaction, difficulty in finding pickup locations, drivers getting lost, fleet breakdowns, employees moonlighting or taking too many breaks for personal work, keeping trucks safe from theft and reducing fuel costs.

    Outlining future needs: Fleet owners need to outline what kind of functionality they will need in the future, since they’d want a system that will grow with them. Fleet owners, for instance, could consider a Cloud-based system which can be accessed from anywhere with internet, is less expensive and offers automatic, easy updates. If fleet owners go in for a modular system, it allows them to buy just as much as they need at the current time, and also have the chance of investing in more as the business grows. Fleet owners should make sure that they can check about improved productivity and profitability.

    Test drives: Fleet owners should ideally narrow down their choices to 2/3 of them by watching demos, viewing videos of GPS tracking providers and products and providers, and then considering installing them. They could use different trucks and maybe install them all at the same time, thus getting an idea of how it works in real world conditions. One can also ask their other companies who have bought systems about how the vehicle tracking system is as well.

    Train everyone involved: The most important tip is to train anyone and everyone even remotely connected and/or working with the fleet management and GPS system, including the drivers and even the maintenance staff. This will ensure that owners get the most out of their investment.

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  • Fleet Tracking Systems, currently known as Fleet tracker GPS, are a typical application which demonstrate the versatility of IT solutions when coupled with GPS systems. There are fleet tracking systems to practically suit the individual owner of a few vehicles to large companies owning large number of vehicles operating over vast, inter and intra-state networks. There are two types of devices, passive which stores all the data, stores in the internal memory of the device and loads periodically. The other is an active system that is in constant touch with a central control center. The data collected are the same changing only on user requirements. There are choices about one way communication and two-way communication and also using GPS satellites for communication or choosing local channels like telephone networks. The individual requirements and the cost are main factors that goes into the decision.

    All systems use the GPS, operated and maintained by the US government and one among the best. One can choose any of the systems like the Russian GLONASS, Europe’s Galileo or the Chinese BeiDou. Many choose GPS and GLONASS as the number of satellite covered increases the accuracy of location determination. The transit operators need some more facilities like on-time announcements of upcoming stops and other useful passenger information. Systems that cater to the transit operators provide these facilities.

    Benefits of fleet tracker GPS
    There are huge benefits to the fleet operators by using these applications. Information is power, and power is always an advantage. GPS tracking devices help the company know where their vehicles are in real time, where they were and where they will be in any future time. Rerouting can be done to improve the committed time lines if required. This allows the operators to update their customers about delivery of or picking up of their consignments. This improves the trust of the customer in the company, a very valuable asset in business. It helps monitor the driver’s driving habits and helps to comply with federal regulations and avoid penalties and also improve punctuality. The systems provide information like vehicle speed, traffic condition, engine conditions, precise time of arrival of vehicles at scheduled stations, driver’s medical aid and other critical requirements. They also help improve vehicle utilization, say by picking up unscheduled consignments or rerouting.

    Other benefits are requirements of driver retraining, improve fuel efficiency, reduce maintenance cost, increase fleet availability by improved maintenance scheduling, and the list is endless. All these improve company reputation and bottom lines.

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  • Necessity is the mother of invention so goes the adage. In many of the really innovative and revolutionary inventions, war had been the mother. Global Positioning System or GPS, the very first of the many inventions, is a product that was primarily developed and meant for war. After Russia launched their satellite Sputnik’ in 1957, two scientists in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Howard County, Maryland, USA wanted to find a way to predict its position in its orbit. They realized this can be done using the theory of the Doppler Effect. That was the origin of research for developing GPS.

    There were lot of earlier developments for specific needs. The developers drew heavily on these systems. Initially, the GPS was exclusively for the defense services only. Later on, it was found to be useful civilians as well. As a matter of fact, the US survey was the first to request for the data and it was made available to civilians by a presidential order. However, the civilians got the application with lesser accuracy. The most accurate positioning data was exclusively for the defense. The GPS was fully deployed by the year 1996, and since then the US has carried out various upgrades. On 1st May 2000 President Clinton ordered the switching off the Selective availability and all stared getting the same data. All nations can use the GPS data with the caveat that America can withhold the use to any nation. Currently 31 satellites are in orbit and working well.

    Russians guessed that the use will not be as open as it appears. After all it was developed to target Russian missiles, submarines and other weapon platforms. They developed their own system called GLONASS that resembled the GPS. That system was completed and achieved complete global coverage only by mid-2000. Other nations who have global positioning systems are European Union with their Galileo, China with their BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, India too has a Global Position System with coverage limited to its immediate neighborhood and using 7 satellites.

    Global positioning satellites orbit in very precise orbits. Each of them transmits a unique signal having the orbital information. GPS receivers use this information and trilateration to calculate the user’s exact location. A minimum of 24 satellites are required to cover the entire globe.

    One of the most popular and easily visible application of GPS in our daily lives is in fleet tracking and individual GPS instruments used by motorists and drivers to drive to desired locations.

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  • Garmin is a company specializing in GPS aided application for spoGPS-aided creation. Garmin Golf GPS is a product which enables golf players to improve the standard of their play. It is an aide one can use during training or daily playing. It cannot be used during tournaments or competitions. It comes in many easy to use forms especially coupled with daily use items that one would take to the course like watches, mobiles etc. Since they are all dual use items they are elegantly designed and one can use it in daily life.

    Wearables: These are wrist watches like appliances. They are elegantly designed watches which doubles up as a golf instructor. It has many features that help golf players improve their game. There multiple models to suite the individual. The different models are named approach S and a number like approach S20. It has features like AutoShot analyzer which measures and auto records shot distances for post round analysis on Garmin Connect. GreenView feature that automatically updates the frequently played courses free of charges. In combination with Garmin TruSwing sensor for metrics to improve one consistency of their swing. One can receive smart notifications for incoming calls, test and other alerts. This has 40,000 preloaded courses with distances, hazards. It also has an activity tracker to get notifications to connect you with your active and healthy life style.

    TruSwing: TruSwing provides data like swing tempo, speed, club path measurements, critical club angles and other data to help one to improve the consistency of the swing, all at a glance. One can pair this with other devices to see more data about the swing and connecting with a tablet or smartphone with their app one can watch 3D animation along with side by side comparison.

    Approach G10: Approach G10 is another golf training app in clip on form. It can be clipped onto anywhere as per the user’s convenience. It can provide distances to the front, back, a middle and hazards of the green. Green view shows shape of the green with provision to manually fix the pin. Has 40,000 golf courses pre-loaded for one to choose from. A Digital Scorecard lets the user to easily keeps scores of each round throughout the round.
    These are the aides a low end and advanced apps have and one gives the idea what their apps can do to improve one’s game.

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  • Garmin Golf GPS is a company that specializes in the manufacture of GPS aided devices. The company started from a discussion between a few engineers that they had way back in the year 1989. Thier idea was to form a company which will make innovative GPS-aided devices to enrich the lives of their customers. Their products span includes fields like aviation, automotive, fitness, outdoor recreation, marine and even wireless applications. The company designs, manufactures, market and sells their products all by themselves. The company that started with a handful of engineers today employs some 7,000 odd people. The company makes sure that all their products give purchaser gets more than their money’s worth with relevant information packed into each of their product.

    Automotive products include navigation devices. These have features like easy to use GPS navigator with 12.7cm dual orientation display, independent of cellular signals, preloaded maps with details and updated free for lifetime, easily search addresses and a large number of points of interest and navigate complex interchanges easily. Its HD camera CDR C320 is an easy to use driving recorder with 3-inch LCD display. It has a wide-angle lens that captures the entire road ahead. One can set the date and time so the footages show when the events happened. It records excellent images in low light too. The camera is mounted on the windshield. It allows playback of the footage later on the computer. There is a camera to aid reversing. The footage is shown on the GPS navigator (to be bought separately). Connect to constant power and easily toggle between camera and navigator. Rugged enough to stand the harsh weather.
    There are also other accessories like tire pressure gauge, sporting aides for running, golf, cycling, swimming, multi-sports, activity tracker and some apps to go with them.
    The Marine segment has equipment like charter sonar combo, cameras, fishfinders GPS combos, wind sensors etc.
    Maps include automotive, golf course, Marine charts, and maps. Cycling maps, etc.
    Outdoor Recreation segment has GPS-aided devices for hikers, campers, and geo-catchers.

    Aviation HSA devices to suit various segments like general aviation, helicopters, head up display for supermidsize, midsize and light business air crafts. The system incorporates crisp, clear view of all pertinent flight information within a single display unit. While a detailed description of all items is beyond the scope of this write-up, an attempt has been made to give details of items that are more relevant to commoners.

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  • One could have numerous reasons for keeping track of the whereabouts of one’s vehicle. For instance, one might be trying to avoid car theft if it is prevalent in the area that they live in. Another example is if you are the parent of a child who has recently started driving, so you want to ensure their safety and security at all times. GPS vehicle tracking devices ensure peace of mind when it comes to car and driver safety and security, apart from ensuring route planning, directions instructions, vehicle upkeep, etc. Listed below are the best tracking devices you can install in your vehicles:

    Zubie ZK30012M GPS Tracker: Zubie focusses mostly on new driver training, complete with real-time GPS tracking, safe drive monitoring which includes alerts for acceleration and hard driving, excessive speeding, etc. The feature called the Fuel Finder’ locates the cheapest fuel near you, as well as send alerts for low fuel, oil changes, worn out batteries, and check engine lights. It is priced at $99.95. Its advantages are monthly driving reports generation, maintenance alerts and easy setup, and disadvantages are delays in data updates, frequent app updates and sharing data with third parties according to user agreement.

    Spy Tec STI_GL300: This portable, mini real-time GPS tracker is more of a spying’ module which doesn’t require being plugged into the car’s OBDII serial port, so it can remain hidden from the driver. The two-week lasting battery, the one-year data backup to a Cloud service, receiving alerts for geo-fenced areas, and accelerometer detection makes Spy Tec a great real-time tracker. It is priced at $69.95 (50% off the MSRP) with a subscription price of $25/month. Its advantages are two-week long battery life, one year data backup, and the tracking platform working on any device

    Optimus Real Time GPS Tracker: This GPS tracking system sends alerts for panic, battery status, and geo-fencing, in addition to speeding. The system has an iOS and Android app both, with unlimited saved data history for the tracker. Additionally, they make a highly-recommended magnetic waterproof case for the system as well. The Optimus Real Time tracker’s price is $79.95 (19% off MSRP), with a subscription price of $19.95/month. Its advantages are great customer service, two-week battery life and dedicated mobile apps, and its disadvantages are lack of constant tracking and tracking.

    Vectu Portable Vehicle Tracker: The Vectu is another great battery-powered unit, which employs the my Apsenta app on both Android play store and iOS. It provides standard notifications, either via SMS or in-app for aspects such as unauthorized movement and entry into geo-fenced areas. For those who have multiple vehicles. The USP of Vectu is the subscription cost, which is $15/3 months or $50 prepaid annually.

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  • Vehicle navigation is one application of all the aspects of GPS Systems that the common man uses the most. With the advent of smartphones which are GPS-incorporated, car navigation has become immensely popular. However, it has introduced a limitation that an internet or a mobile service is necessary for its operation. These navigation systems are equipped with various other facilities that has made driving safer and more relaxed activity. This write up tries to explain the intricacies of the system in jargon free language. There are various devices in the market with many added features.

    The navigation device has the following elements.

    The GPS antenna receiver receives the signals from the satellite.
    The direction sensor provides the direction in which the vehicle is travelling.
    The speed sensor provides the speed of the vehicle and the system calculates the distance has yet to travel to reach the destination.
    The display screen to show the navigation computer output.
    The Map data base checks the information from the antenna and sensors against the map database and sends the outputs to the display screen using the control circuitry of the navigation computer.
    Navigation computer, which is the brain of the system. It compares the information received from the antenna, the various onboard sensors and compares them with the map database and determines the vehicle’s exact present position, and calculates the time of possible arrival at destination, taking into consideration the remaining distance, vehicle speed etc. It shows the remaining distance to the distance also.

    Another important function the navigator is to perform is route selection and constantly monitor traffic on this and other parallel routes to avoid traffic congestion and resulting delays.
    These functions it performs by using the four following databases.

    Road Network data, road configuration, connection conditions, attributes etc.
    Background data which gives information like rivers, shorelines, railroads, contours etc.
    Site information data such as building names, addresses, representative structures etc.

    Voice data voice guidance: Firstly, the current location is determined consulting current location details. Secondly, it finds the destination and setting using the destination details. Third, the route to the destination is searched and fixed. Lastly, it searches for a route which is shortest and quickest, and recommends the same to the driver.

    Background data are searched to provide guidance using the voice guidance.
    Route details are displayed.

    Finally, it collates information received from various agencies like traffic police other drivers and informs of traffic congestions. All in all, it makes driving to any destination hassle free and smooth.

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  • When combined with other IT based technologies, one’s own imagination and innovativeness seems to be the only limit to the applications. The first civilian department to use GPS was the survey department. The advantages to survey was so huge that the then US president ordered to share the GPS data for civilian use.

    The usefulness of GPS-aided devices in the civilian sector is infinite and the numerous device manufacturers have risen to meet the challenges admirably. Truly, it is only one’s imagination limits the opportunities. Given below are some of the uses to which the GPS system is put to good uses.

    Surveying normally entails tugging heavy cumbersome equipment around. Surveying depends on fixed reference points too. Imagine the difficulty in surveying long river or any water body where it is next to impossible to have a fixed reference point. GPS allows surveying using GPS data which are space based and far more accurate and more easily obtained. The whole process of surveying is greatly simplified, and eliminates the tugging of heavy and cumbersome equipment along. It reduces the manpower requirement, increases accuracy and greatly reduces both cost and time.

    Cartographers could increase their accuracy manifold times using these devices. Accurate aligning of tunnels bored from both ends is now possible.

    Navigation on the high seas
    Navigation in high seas have challenges, conventional methods are limited by visibility and other weather conditions. Day time navigation is limited by the absence of adequate fixed reference points. GPS data helps to locate one’s position accurately in any weather condition very accurately.

    Air traffic control
    Air traffic gets streamlined as aircraft locations and distances are available with much greater accuracy in all weather conditions and time. The airports locations are also more accurately available. All these improve navigation and reduces flight time, saving costs.

    Vehicle tracking
    GPS technology has greatly benefited the trucking industry and indirectly logistics. The tracking applications are so sophisticated that besides knowing the exact location, it also has an estimate of time that it would take to reach its destination. The operator can know the fuel available in the tank, the locations the trucks stopped and the durations of the stops. All this information helps the company to increase their efficiency and punctuality and vehicle turn around.

    These few examples show how greatly the GPS system has benefited the society. In recent times, as other IT solutions emerged and combining these two has increased the opportunities manifold times.

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