Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS positioning: GPS is a global positioning system, a global navigation satellite system for positioning in the open air. You can find an explanation of how positioning with this technology works here.


  • Infrastructure available
  • Available worldwide
  • High accuracy under good conditions


  • Not suitable for indoor use
  • High battery consumption

The satellite-based positioning system was developed by the US Department of Defense in the 1970s and has been fully operational since the mid-1990s. Under good reception conditions, the attainable positioning accuracy without correction is about 5-20m. Since most common GPS receivers today can also receive WAAS/EGNOS correction signals, the accuracy actually achievable is improved to 1-3m.

In order to function reliably, the system requires a free “line of sight” from the receiver to several satellites (theoretically three, in practice six to twelve satellites). This condition can already be limited in outdoor areas by scenic or architectural conditions, in indoor areas the reception is in most cases too weak to offer relevant location-based services. The term has now been introduced in such a way that it is used as a generic term (paper tissue = Tempo) for all satellite navigation systems.

GPS is particularly strong outdoors

Navigation systems for vehicles, ships and airplanes are based on it. But even the popular fitness trackers and tracking apps for smartphones are inconceivable without GPS. In the area of location-based services, users in certain areas – for example within a radius of 500 meters around a store – can be targeted using geofencing. Simple virtual city guides and location search are other application examples that can be realized with GPS. Points of interest (POI) are places and locations in the user’s immediate vicinity that may be of interest to him or her.

Some apps and social networks like Foursquare or Gowalla have turned visiting and collecting locations into a game. Apps like these were among the first location-based smartphone applications to reach a broad public. Thus Foursquare 2009, one year after the iPhone 3GS, was introduced. The GPS-based app Pokemon-go, which connected virtual content with the real world, caused a sensation in 2016.