“The Global Positioning System, better known as GPS, has come to affect countless aspects of our daily lives, from directing our holiday aeroplanes to enabling us to drive round an unfamiliar city without any map other than the one on our mobile phone. At the risk of making myself sound like a scary stalker, I can check even up on Mrs Geek’s whereabouts at any time using Find Friends on my iPhone.
There have been GPS satellites in position orbiting the Earth for many years, but only the US military had the equipment able to unscramble the signals and in the mid 1990’s even the lightest GPS receivers still weighed a pretty chunky 1.25 kg. When President Clinton announced in 1996 that the system would be opened up for civilian use by the year 2000, few could have anticipated that this would kick start a massive industry and that by 2017 almost a third of the population of the earth would have a GPS receiver in their pocket, on their smartphone, which together with a mapping application such a Google maps allows people to get around unfamiliar places without the fear of getting lost. Today, Sat Nav devices using GPS signals come as standard in many new cars.