GPS Location Tracking Technologies: Definition and Main Features

GPS Location Tracking Technologies

It wouldn’t be correct to say that GPS location tracking is exactly a recent innovation.  The first satellite navigation experiments were conducted in the 1960s, and GPS technology itself was actively developed in the 1980s-1990s. However, thanks to the tech progress that has taken place since that time and new devices that have become widely available, we have new opportunities related to location tracking and navigation

In this article, we’ll have a look at how this technology works, what solutions are presented in the market, and also pay attention to the importance of GPS location tracking technology in the modern world.

GPS tracking technologies: How do they work?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. It is a radio-navigation system that is used all over the world. It is powered by data from 24 satellites and their stations placed on the ground. Actually, there are 27 satellites in the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS); three of them are extras and will be used in case any of the 24 satellites fails. These satellites are moving around the Earth and sending radio signals from space. The tracking stations are placed in all the world’s regions, and they are used for tracking the received GPS signals.

The working principle of GPS tracker technology is based on the mathematical principle known as trilateration, which presupposes using the position of at least 3 satellites from the GNSS network and the distance of a tracker from them. These pieces of data help to detect longitude, latitude, elevation, and time.

Initially, the system was built for the needs of the US army, but of course, the use of GPS location tracking technologies is significantly wider today. In general, it’s used to determine a user’s location to help with navigation, to provide location-based recommendations, or to track the user’s activity

What are the Main Features of GPS Technologies Actively Used in Location Tracking

Here’s a look at the most widely used features of GPS-powered location tracking apps and their possible uses.

Features of GPS Technologies.png

  • Navigation

The most popular feature of solutions powered by geolocation tracking technologies is navigation. Thanks to this functionality, users can find their way from one location to another even in a completely unknown area.

  • Timing

When a solution “knows” a destination, a precise real-time location, and the speed of a user/vehicle that has a GPS tracker, it can predict the exact time that the user will reach the desired destination. This feature can be used for both personal and business needs.

  • Tracking

Tracking features are aimed at monitoring the movements of objects and individuals. Today tracking is widely used in elderly and children's care.

  • Landmarks and geofences

With these features, you will always when a person/animal/vehicle has reached a set location or, vice versa when they leave this location. This functionality is used in enterprise solutions (for example, to monitor transport fleet movement) as well as in apps for a wider audience (for tracking movements of pets, children, or elderly people).

  • Real-time mapping 

If you want to see where your vehicles are located in real-time, you can use the location GPS tracking system. With this functionality, you will see the position of each vehicle on a map on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Similar features can be added to parental control solutions so that adults can always see where their children are.

Fields Where GPS Location Tracking Technology Is Used

The number of applications for GPS tracking is growing in many different spheres. We’ve grouped various use cases for GPS location tracking technology into several categories. 

  • Military use

As mentioned above, the first purpose of this technology was to serve the needs of the US military authorities. Today, it is still widely used in this field for ship navigation, tracking aircraft and troop movements, etc. GPS-powered solutions are especially useful when military units are located in territories they do not know well or when moving at night.

  • Search and rescue

One of the benefits of GPS location tracking technologies is their capacity to save lives. A location tracking system is at the core of many rescue and search operations. Rescue teams can use GPS devices to understand where they have already searched and what territories haven’t been covered. Moreover, if a lost person has a GPS device or even a smartphone, information coming from it can also help a search team.

  • Vehicle tracking

GPS location tracking technologies are very often used by commercial fleets that install special devices on their vehicles. This allows managers to monitor the locations of drivers in real-time in order to update delivery status or track efficiency.

Such solutions are useful not only for monitoring themselves but for collecting data that can help in planning routes and developing business strategies.

  • Recreational use

Today the majority of wearable devices, such as smart bracelets or watches have GPS-based functionality. As these devices are often used for running, hiking, and biking, GPS features provide users with information related to their speed, distance, and burned calories.

Moreover, there are a lot of completely new and innovative ways to use data about people’s locations. For example, a lot of AR apps use the location for providing unique gaming experiences.


Want to build a GPS location tracking app?

At Cogniteq, we will help you transform even the most innovative ideas into real products that will bring numerous benefits to end-users!

Share your ideas with us

Products powered by GPS location tracking technology

Nowadays, a wide range of devices is powered by GPS. This group covers much more than simple GPS trackers that can be installed on vehicles for fleet tracking. In one of our previous articles, we have already discussed in detail the types of location based apps, so now let's talk about Cogniteq experience. 

Our team has solid expertise in working with GPS technologies, and today our portfolio includes a number of feature-rich innovative solutions.

Let’s have a look at some of them.

Dog tracker is one of the solutions we’ve built for the pet tech industry. It’s a mobile app compatible with smart GPS dog collars.  As dogs can easily get lost when they are walking in unfamiliar areas or when they run away from their owners, our client designed a smart collar that monitors the location of a dog and can track its activity.

dog tracker

The solution created by our team includes several modules. The “Where is my dog?” module allows owners to see on the map where their pet is in real-time. The app can detect the dog’s speed, distance, and direction of its movement.

The geofence feature helps you to make a virtual fence for your pet, and if it leaves the set zone, a push notification will be sent to your phone. Other app features allow tracking walks, viewing the history of walks, and monitoring the dog’s activity.

Another solution we’d like to mention is also intended for animals, but this time we’re talking about horses. Step Up Horse is a solution designed for a client who built a cutting-edge device for horses that are preparing for competition. The device is placed around the horse's torso and monitors the vital parameters of the animal during training, which helps trainers better understand the physical state of their horses. 

step up horse

These GPS-powered devices track distance, training time, average speed, heart rate, breathing rate, and recovery time. Trainers get real-time data shown on their smartwatches while training history, data analysis, and statistics are available on smartphones.

But we build GPS products not only for the pet tech market, and Teamzwatt is a good example to prove our words. This project included building a couple of power metering apps for cyclists. Power meters are intended for measuring the rider’s power output during professional multi-stage cycling races, for monitoring and evaluating race performance.


GPS technologies ensure real-time speed and distance tracking for accurate results.

Final thoughts

Today GPS-based solutions are used in widely varying business domains. And one of the advantages of GPS location tracking technology is its capacity to power a lot of types of apps intended for various goals. That’s exactly what you can see in the examples we’ve mentioned.

In 2020, the volume of the world’s GPS tracking device market hit $1.78 billion, and it is expected to reach $4.93 billion by 2028. This segment is obviously quite promising from a business perspective, and if you have an idea to build an app with location tracking functionality, this is a great time to move forward.

At Cogniteq, we are always happy to share our skills and knowledge and will offer a solution that will fully satisfy your business needs. Contact us! Let’s discuss what we can do for you.


What are the key industries where real-time location tracking is used?

There are many spheres where such features can be of great use, including logistics and transportation, pet tech, elderly care, healthcare, and sports.

Are there any issues related to GPS location tracking?

There are four main concerns, mainly related to ethical aspects: personal data privacy, accuracy, property, and accessibility.

What other types of geolocation tracking technologies provide similar opportunities to GPS?

Besides GPS, there are three main technologies for location tracking: Bluetooth, WiFi, and network-based geolocation.