How does GPS Tracking work?

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How does GPS Tracking work?

Today GPS Tracking technology has become an integral part of everyday life and is ubiquitously common in our cars, mobiles, and even watches. Every day most of us rely on the convenience it provides without even knowing what it is and how it works.

In this article, we will look at what GPS tracking is, how it works, the types of GPS, and what GPS is used for so that you can appreciate this technology that you take for granted every day.

What Is GPS Tracking?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is composed of a network of satellites that orbit the Earth using satellites in Earth’s orbit and equipment that can pinpoint the precise location of an item or person on the planet. Originally developed during the 1960s for military applications, the technology was made widely available in 1983.


What Exactly Is a GPS Tracker?

A GPS tracking device is a type of portable device that can be used to supervise and pinpoint a person’s / device / cargo location. The devices are ubiquitous in vehicle tracking systems but are now also included in smartphones to help navigate around the world. Unlike in-car navigation systems, GPS tracking devices use GPS technology to keep track of a vehicle’s location and trip history. The data collected by the devices is then sent to a computer or a tablet.

How Does GPS Tracking Work?

GPS trackers use a process known as trilateration to determine a person’s location using the position of several satellites. The satellites’ position and the device’s distance from them are used to determine various details such as longitude, latitude, elevation, and time.

A GPS tracker can be powered by various components inside a vehicle, such as an onboard diagnostics cable, a cigarette lighter, and an internal battery. The data collected by the device is then sent to software that allows users to analyze and visualize its data.

Some of these devices are active trackers, which allow users to view their global positioning data in real time. A passive GPS tracker is usually less expensive than an active one. It only stores the data collected by the device for later viewing.


Types of GPS Systems

A GPS tracking system can be used in various ways. For instance, some systems will store the data collected by the device within the GPS. Others will send the data to a central database using a modem.

There are two main types of GPS tracking: active GPS tracking and passive GPS tracking.

Active GPS Tracker

Active GPS trackers can be used to monitor a person’s location in real-time using various devices, such as mobile phones, smartwatches, or personal computers. They can also provide various statistics, such as the time in use and the distance traveled.

The cost of an active GPS tracking system can be higher than a passive GPS device, primarily because it requires a stable connection to a cellular network to function properly.

Passive GPS Tracker

One of the biggest differences between a passive and an active GPS device is its ability to send and receive data in real time.

While an active GPS device can transmit data, a passive GPS device can record data on a memory that can be accessed by a computer. Some devices can also display a map in real time, but they cannot send this data to a separate device.

Unlike an active GPS device, a passive GPS device doesn’t require a connection to a cellular network to transmit data. These devices can include various types of gadgets, such as GPS watches and navigation devices.

The data collected by a passive GPS tracking system can be used to track an individual’s location and activities based on specific events.

It can log data on the device’s location in the past 12 hours. The information collected by the device is then sent to a computer to be analyzed later.

A passive GPS is designed to send data continuously to a central database. This type of system can be used in commercial applications, such as keeping track of the location of a caregiver’s child or elderly relative. It can also monitor employees’ driving habits to improve the efficiency of a company’s operations.


GPS tracking was a technology invented by the military for operations. Still, the technology has been widely adopted worldwide and has trickled down into contemporary gadgets enabling the conveniences that we enjoy today.

GPS devices work by communicating with the satellites that are orbiting the Earth and estimating location based on the distance and time taken for that communication. The precision of the estimated location relies on the type of GPS tracking in consideration.


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