01.15.2015Personal Tech

#ThrowbackThursday: Remember Life Before GPS?

This is part of our #ThrowbackThursday series - with a focus on tech, of course!

#ThrowbackThursday is something those active on social media have embraced. While often the focus of our fondest memories, it’s also a fun way to reminisce about life in the sometimes not-so-good old days.

Remember when, for example, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was relatively unknown to those outside the military - or when getting from point A to point B in the car involved the folded paper map, a MapQuest computer printout, a backseat driver, stopping for directions, a large amount of guessing or all of the above?

What did we do before we had GPS in our cars and, ultimately, on our cell phones?

Mostly, we got lost. We were late for meetings and events. We stressed about finding a gas station before we hit empty.

Today, with direct access to GPS options on your smartphone like VZ Navigator, Google Maps and Waze, it’s easy to forget just how stressful those road trips could be.

Quartz reports, “The appetite for navigation is huge: In December [2013], more than 374 million people logged into a navigation app on their iPhones or Android devices, according to Priori Data, a research firm… more than double the number of people who used Twitter from their mobile phones.”

This need for navigation is easy to understand. With options to search for the nearest gas stations and other points of interest, set up audible alerts for traffic congestion and offer alternative routes, and even send a warning sound when you exceed a set speed over the limit, traveling can be smooth sailing - even for the most directionally-challenged individual.

There are even GPS products and services, like Verizon’s Networkfleet, designed to help companies managing fleets of vehicles save time and money. And, GPS technology continues to evolve.

So, what does the future hold for wireless navigation? “Wearables” like the Samsung Gear S and the Moto 360 were all the rage in 2014 and should continue to grow in popularity in 2015. In addition to letting you make and answer calls, check and send texts and even track your run, these “smart watches” allow for quick access to directions — with a flick of your wrist.

Connected cars are projected to be big in 2015 with more automobile manufacturers introducing their own versions of smart vehicles — some actually controlled by smart watches. And, breakthrough innovations are occurring around indoor GPS solutions. A Newsweek article from June 2014 referred to indoor GPS as the “final frontier of personalized navigation.”

GPS technology has come a long way since its inception. While it’s fun to take a trip down memory lane on #ThrowbackThursday, most drivers will agree — life without GPS on our smartphones is a time we’re happy to leave behind.

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