Get lost! With GPS, it’s easier said than done

Technically Speaking
By Tamara Nicola

Like many others, I’ve always been a gadget person and I’m always interested in the latest gadgets that hit the market. However, I was late to the table when it came to purchasing a GPS receiver. I don’t travel by car that much so I didn’t see the need; boy was I wrong.
With prices starting at around $125, a GPS device will ensure that you never get lost again and you might just find yourself confidently exploring back roads for fun. You simply type in the address of your destination and a soothing voice along with a color display begins to guide you along the way. It is almost an eerie experience to see this device pinpoint your exact location and gently guide you back to your route should you make a wrong turn. If you have wondered how this technology works, here is a great description from the website,
“The Global Positioning System (GPS) is actually a constellation of 27 Earth-orbiting satellites (24 in operation and three extras in case one fails). The U.S. military developed and implemented this satellite network as a military navigation system, but soon opened it up to everybody else.
“Each of these 3,000- to 4,000-pound solar-powered satellites circles the globe at about 12,000 miles (19,300 km), making two complete rotations every day. The orbits are arranged so that at anytime, anywhere on Earth, there are at least four satellites ‘visible’ in the sky.
“A GPS receiver’s job is to locate four or more of these satellites, figure out the distance to each, and use this information to deduce its own location. This operation is based on a simple mathematical principle called trilateration. Trilateration is a method of determining the relative positions of objects using the geometry of triangles in a similar fashion as triangulation.”
There are several cool models on the market; one of my favourites is the Asus R300 Handheld Personal Navigator. This little device seems to have it all and is priced around $150. A mounting kit makes it easy to use in the car but you can also slide it into your pocket, and get directions in pedestrian, bike and even bus mode. It also has an “entertainment hub” and can carry photos, music files, even videos. It accepts external Micro SD cards as well. It has Bluetooth and an embedded FM transmitter, which lets you stream directions through your car stereo. With the R300, you can even field phone calls!