How GPS Works


Three Satellites are Used for GPS Tracking and Mapping

How GPS Technology locates what you are looking for

Many people ask how that tiny gps chip manages to track and map the location of whatever it is attached to to such a precise measurement.  It is something that for the most part we take for granted now, but as GPS technology gets more advanced and more exciting, people tend to wonder exactly how it actually works.  This is particularly true when they buy GPS chip jewelry, pet collars, or child protection because they want to be sure the technology will actually work!  It seems almost magical to think that this tiny little transmitter could locate such a small thing with such precision.

Here is just a brief explanation of how GPS chips manage to track and map the location of whatever they are attached to.  The secret involves triangulation between three satellites:

1. Satellite one can provide little more than the knowledge that the GPS chip is inside the entire circular range that it covers – imagine the satellite emitting a beam of light like a flashlight does.  That satellite knows the GPS chip is within that beam of light, but the circle is large.  The pet, or jewelry, or teenager or car with the built in gps chip has been located, but the resulting information would not be helpful unless you just wanted to know what state they are in.

2. Enter satellite 2.  Now we have data that says the GPS chip and whatever it is attached to must be within the beams from these two satellites, and (take our word for this) these two satellites are positioned so that their overlap is ideal and so the overlap creates only a small oval (again, if you picture using two flashlight beams – or even try this as an experiment you can see this GPS technology clearly).  So now your cat or dog with a gps collar, or your necklace with a gps chip, or your cattle with embedded hardware have been located within a smaller oval.

3. To turn the oval into a dot, we need a third satellite which, within an ideal orbit as compared to the other two.  This one measures the GPS chip’s position in a way so that the three measurements lead to a specific location.  The ideal arrangement of satellites that we are referring to is called a “constellation”, and the result is GPS tracking and mapping.  You’ve found what you are looking for, and you can even see it’s movements.

This is how built-in gps works to track, locate, and map where you or something valuable to you is.  It is simple geometry, yet incredibly technologically advanced.  As you can see from our GPS Products page, built-in GPS can be used in many different ways, using the technology explained here.

The GPS tracking and mapping technology described above has actually been around for many years, but the chips that can now be built-in or embedded have become smaller, more powerful, and easier to work with.  That is what this site is all about.

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