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14 Creative Ways To Get More Out Of Your GPS

New GPS technology has radically altered the way we travel and interact with the world. Here are some clever ways to use GPS you may not have considered.

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GPS (Global Positioning System) is the triangulation of locations using satellites.

Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics / CC BY / Via youtube.com

While this was once the domain of military and science, it's now an everyday feature in our cars and phones. But there's a lot more you can do with the technology than simply pull up a driving map.

1. Create running and biking routes based on elevation.

There's a huge difference between a flat run and a hilly run. GPS lets you track elevation and build a workout routine that more accurately reflects the energy being expended.

2. "Drop a pin" or take a screenshot of your GPS position to prevent getting lost in huge parking lots.

Shutterstock

This trick comes in handy when parking at amusement parks and sports arenas. It only takes a few seconds and can save you countless hours over the course of your life.

3. Geotag your photos and display your travel photography on a map.

Left: Map data © 2014 Google; Top Right: Joyce cory / CC BY http://2.0 / Flickr: docentjoyce Bottom Right: dhilung / CC BY http://2.0 / Flickr: dhilung /

If you're taking photos with a smartphone or a GPS-enabled camera, you can store your location data in the photo's metadata and plot a photo gallery on a map. Most common digital photo storage services will generate the map automatically.

4. Connect a small tracking beacon to items that matter most to you.

BuzzFeed

Ever accidentally throw your keys in the garbage or misplace your purse? With technology like Tile, you can attach a GPS chip to important objects and pinpoint their location with your phone.

5. Pre-program locations you frequently visit in your GPS to save time.

BuzzFeed

Few people take the time to do this and end up spending precious time typing in the same addresses over and over again. (Pro tip: This makes voice activation much easier!)

6. Go on a geo-treasure hunt.

Les Chatfield / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: elsie

Hunting for hidden packages with GPS is called geocaching. The packages are mapped for people to find and posted on online forums. Popular forms of the sport involve taking an item from the cache and replacing it with something new.

7. Leave your destinations at the right time.

b k / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: joiseyshowaa

GPS can sync with your calendar to give you an estimate of how long it will take you to reach an appointment on time. For example, the app Never Late takes traffic and road conditions into account and sends you an alert telling you when to leave to get to your destination on time.

8. Incorporate GPS into your wardrobe.

Flora GPS Jacket / Via learn.adafruit.com

Wearable GPS is becoming more and more common. For example, you can build a fashion hack where your jacket will light up when you're near certain locations, like coffee shops or friends' houses.

9. Track your pets with a GPS collar.

Orin Zebest / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: orinrobertjohn

You can now buy collars that transmit your pet's position to your computer or phone. This is helpful for dogs with a habit of running away or for added safety when spending time away from home.

10. Understand sports better with GPS mapping and GPS-enabled balls.

Via golfsites.mooee.com

Apps like GolfSites let you plot your golf game on satellite maps. GPS technology is also being added directly to game balls to let you generate a detailed map of the ball movement throughout your games.

11. Stay on top of your friends' locations.

Technology like Find My Friends and other apps lets you track the locations of people in your network the same way you track an Uber cab.

You can use these apps to easily split off from friends and reconnect when wandering around a city or at a crowded music festival. And don't worry, you can easily turn the tracking on and off as needed.

12. Change up the GPS voices to suit your mood.

Shutterstock

You don't have to settle for the preset GPS voice. If you mix it up on a regular basis, it'll feel like you're making new friends!

13. Find a confluence point.

ChuckThePhotographer / CC BY http://2.0 / Via Flickr: chuckthephotographer

Another popular GPS game involves finding and photographing the exact location where latitude and longitude lines meet. There are thousands of locations that haven't been documented, and this website compiles the photographic evidence.

Ken OHYAMA / CC BY-SA http://2.0 / Via Flickr: 20013727@N02

Creative folks are using GPS to take hikes to create shapes or spell out words. Who wouldn't want to receive a wedding proposal by hiking a 20-mile path that spells out "Will you marry me?" The possibilities are endless.

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