Sunday, March 18, 2012

Does Overuse of GPS Alter Your Brain?

Auto GPS buyers guide

GPS is simultaneously one of the most important and prevalent technologies of our age. Whether you use a dedicated GPS device, own a smartwatch, have a smartphone in your pocket, or use a computer built in the last couple years, there’s a good chance that GPS is a heavy part of your day-to-day life, whether you realize it or not. And, as with any technology, as the uses grow and the privacy concerns blossom, it leaves people wondering if GPS doesn’t have any unintended consequences.

Overall, GPS is a wonderful thing. I don’t think anyone would argue that the ability to not get lost when driving to your Aunt’s house once a year isn’t useful, or that being able to avoid traffic on your way to that awesome sushi place isn’t nice. But, with the constant outsourcing of mapping and navigational tasks, is it possible that GPS is also affecting your brain? read more

GPS Anomaly in Central Russia May be Spoofing


Photo by Pavel Kazachkov | CC BY 2.0

For the last few months, there have been plenty of odd reports coming out of Russia that there is a GPS anomaly in central Moscow. And, as the reports have become more and more frequent and the Russian government continues to stay quiet on the matter, some people believe that it may, in fact, be a case of GPS spoofing.

According to the CNN report, many people are experiencing glitches in their GPS devices when nearing the Kremlin. This glitch, or anomaly, suddenly forces their device to show users located in Vnukovo airport—nearly 20 miles away from the Kremlin. It’s notable that it’s not just the Kremlin—the signal reportedly fluctuates all around Moscow but is most noticeable closer to the Kremlin.  read more

Use GPS to Help Rescuers Find You Faster


Every winter, thousands of people get lost in the snow, or have an accident of some sort and end up in a ditch with snow everywhere. And, depending where you are, it can sometimes be hours before search and rescue crews can find your vehicle and lend aid. However, something that many people forget about is using GPS to speed things up a bit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: if you’re already lost, how is a GPS going to help you? If your location had an address, then you wouldn’t be sitting in your car, waiting for rescue teams (or a tow truck or a friend) to find you and help get you back to safety. But, what most people don’t consider is that GPS relies on not only satellite signals, but latitude and longitude coordinates, which can help rescuers find you immediately.

While I dearly hope that no one needs any of this, here are some ways that you can find your latitude and longitude in an emergency: read more

Waze Tackles GPS Tunnel Blindness


We’ve probably all had it happen. You’re driving along and your route takes you inside a tunnel where, suddenly, your GPS device is completely useless and you find yourself squinting along at signs trying to figure out which lane you need to be in. Because GPS signals are transmitted from satellites, dense cover and underground locations (like tunnels) have always been a challenge. While manufacturers have managed to improve GPS technology so many devices can keep signals in dense undergrowth and in canyons, having a signal underground is a different challenge altogether. But, it looks like Google’s secondary navigation company Waze has a solution.

The Waze Beacons Program uses modified Bluetooth beacons in order to communicate location with your device. From what it looks like, the beacons currently will only work with the Waze app, but the signals are unencrypted so other manufacturers like Google or even Garmin, could take advantage of them as well. read more

MapQuest To Continue Deal with TomTom


TomTom, the Dutch navigation and mapping company, has announced that it has expanded its deal with the GPS navigational software company MapQuest. The original deal, which was first struck in 2012 and has been extended since then, allows MapQuest to use TomTom’s extensive map database for its digital platforms. But this year, some additional things were added.

According to the press release, MapQuest, a subsidiary of AOL, has also brokered access to TomTom’s traffic information, leading speculation that MapQuest will soon be offering better traffic options. Currently, MapQuest already offers some traffic information for drivers, although it is not always accurate. However, this partnership may mean some big things for MapQuest. read more

Truck Driver Hits Low Bridge in NY Following Wrong Type of GPS Device

tomtom trucker 6000

Devices like this TomTom Trucker might have prevented the entire incident.

There are many different kinds of GPS devices and here at GPS Tracklog, I try and do my best to cover as many of them as possible. However, one thing that I don’t really write about (due to it’s immense specalization) is commercial GPS devices designed for truck drivers. These devices contain specific perimeters designed to help professional drivers choose the safest routes, and this blog is really more dedicated to hobbyists and GPS enthusiasts. However, today I saw an article that simply proves that drivers need to be more aware of what kind of GPS device they are buying.

According to a news site in Schenectady, NY, a truck driver recently hit a low hanging bridge in Glenville, NY, damaging his truck and halting traffic on the road. And, more interestingly, this was the second accident of its type that day alone. The bridge in question, the Maple Avenue Bridge in Glenville, NY, has been hit an estimated 20 times since 2013 when the road was widened. While you can read the full story here, basically it looks like yet another case of someone following a GPS device blindly, but with a little twist. read more

It is Illegal to Use Phone GPS While Driving in RI


The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal made a landmark decision recently that may have cemented the beginning of troubles for phone GPS apps. Recently, the ruling from the Tribunal’s Appeals Panel upheld a state fine for a man in Rhode Island who was given a ticket for looking at his phone while driving. The man claimed that he was checking his GPS, not texting.

“…Based on the plain language of the statute,” the judges wrote in their decision, “a reader may be looking at any visual display on the phone’s interface and be in violation of the statute. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the statute: to prevent drivers from distractions caused by operation of a cell phone while driving.” read more

Clerical Error Causes Plane GPS to go Haywire


There are absolutely no shortage of stories of people taking a wrong turn or ending up in the wrong place, and as it turns out, being a pilot doesn’t make you immune to this error. Recently, an AirAsia flight from Sydney to Malaysia ended up in Melbourne for a spell due to a clerical error.

The flight, which left the Sydney Airport just before noon, began to experience some technical problems, and when the autopilot was switched on, it immediately became apparent something was very wrong as the entire plan began to turn in the wrong direction. read more

Findster Duo Provides Real-time GPS Pet Tracking with No Fee


Whether your furry friend is a professional escape artist, or simply loves running and playing, it only takes a moment to lose them. For many people, your dog is a part of the family, and while there are plenty of GPS pet trackers, most of then are basically new versions of the exact same thing. However, the folks behind the popular Findster GPS tracker have announced that they are creating a new no-fee GPS pet tracker.

The Findster Duo features many of the same sorts of things that you’d expect from a commercial pet GPS tracker including 5-10 foot margin of error, invisible leash, built-in radar, security fences, and realtime GPS tracking. However, unlike most pet trackers on the market, Findster Duo doesn’t require any cellular connection, making it one of the only trackers with no monthly fee. read more

Australia’s GPS Coordinates Are Off Due to Drifting



Anyone who passed seventh grade could probably tell you that all the continents on Earth are not as stable as they seem. In reality, there are several tectonic plates which sort of move around on top of the upper mantle of the planet. That’s basic science. But, what most people probably haven’t considered is how that effects your GPS coordinates.

According to the National Geographic and the New York Times, Australia is actually moving around at such a rapid pace that the coordinates need to be adjusted before the end of the year. Since the last adjustment in 1994, the continent has moved 4.9 feet. That might not sound like a lot, but with more and more companies investing in precision GPS satellites that use that information, five feet is a big deal.  read more