What Are the Benefits of GPS Systems?

What Are the Benefits of GPS Systems?Navigation devices using global positioning system (GPS) technology are useful for people who backpack and hike in remote places where there are no clearly marked trails to lead the way. GPS devices receive signals sent by a network of earth-orbiting satellites to help an outdoors enthusiast accurately find his location on a map. GPS devices also have life-saving, commercial and travel-planning benefits.

Preloaded Maps

In addition to providing you with longitude and latitude readings, some GPS devices come preloaded with maps of specific areas. For example, the Garmin GPS Oregon 750t---the price is around $550---comes preloaded with topographic maps that allow you to chart a course using street names and trail numbers. If you get lost in the backcountry, this device helps you reach the next major highway, street or city by the shortest route. Advanced models allow you to upload your own maps, which make these GPS receivers versatile tools when traveling to other states or foreign countries.

SOS Signal

Specially designed GPS components transform basic signal units into SOS beacons or home-base contact systems. An example is the SPOT Satellite Messenger---its starting retail price is $150---that provides backcountry hikers and cross-country backpackers with the option of signaling distress, signaling that all is well or merely transmitting a current location for loved ones back home who are keeping track of your trip progress. This eliminates dependence on cell phone coverage and signal strength.

Compatible with Peripherals

GPS technology offers the added benefit of making itself available to external devices. For example, the Suunto Spartan Collection, which at about $280, targets athletes, who wish to rely on global positioning technology to provide live, streaming distance data to a receiver. This information allows coaches and other support people to analyze speed, consistency, distance traveled and potential terrain difficulties.

Another example of a versatile peripheral is the Garmin GPS Forerunner 235---it retails starting at $250---that tracks your heart rate during any athletic endeavor. This may make it a crucial component in athletic training, health recovery or fitness and endurance training.

GPS Business Application

You find other benefits of GPS systems in commercial fleet operations. Companies that operate delivery fleets or run service trucks depend on GPS technology to track individual vehicles, notify customers of anticipated arrival times, and log departure times for billing purposes. This eliminates time-consuming log preparation by drivers.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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