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Personal Applications

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Title Personal Applications
Author(s) Rui Barradas Pereira.
Level Basic
Year of Publication 2011
Logo GMV.png

The availability of low-cost GNSS chipsets allowed for integration of GNSS in different consumer products such as mobile phones. As a consequence, GNSS started being used not only for professional activities but also for leisure and entertainment purposes.

Some of these uses bring comfort to the user and can save the user time. Others are just to facilitate social interactions not bringing a tangible benefit to the user. The fact that the technology is available and free to use, allows for this kind of use.

Overview of Personal Applications

Personal Applications

Given the easy availability of GNSS positioning in consumer products the use of GNSS positioning for personal applications has become usual and new uses for the technology are constantly appearing.

In this section we detail four of the most common personal applications for the GNSS technology.

Pedestrian Navigation

Pedestrian Navigation consists in the navigation of pedestrians in urban environments. Pedestrian navigation often offers pedestrian specific maps and multi-modal navigation that combines walking directions with all available modes of transportation and even routing in indoor environments[1].

Pedestrian navigation requires more complex maps and algorithms to provide an adequate navigation experience than road navigation which is a simpler, much more predictable and contained environment.

Detailed information about Pedestrian Navigation can be found here.

Outdoor Navigation

Outdoor Navigation consists in the navigation in outdoor environments such as nature trails. Outdoor Navigation is used mainly by outdoor enthusiasts (such as hikers, backpackers, geocaching enthusiasts, mountaineers or bikers) and outdoor workers (such emergency workers, wildlife preservation workers, forestry workers, farmers or mining workers)[2].

Outdoor Navigation is somewhat different from Pedestrian Navigation or Road Navigation since it uses the concepts of trails and waypoints instead of a turn by turn navigation. Maps are not always required since individual trails can be loaded on the device or trails can be created from hikes. When present, maps are very different from the ones used in Pedestrian Navigation or Road Navigation; outdoor navigation maps more closely related with topographic charts and military charts, rather than being street and road oriented.

Detailed information about Outdoor Navigation can be found here.

Social Networking

Social Networking has become a part of our daily life and millions of cybernauts use social network to interact with their social and professional contacts. The concept of posting information about "what are you doing" very rapidly progressed to post "where are you".

Location-enabled Social Networking allows users to post their current location or to check into[footnotes 1] places or venues. This allows the user to disseminate his/her location to his/her friends while receiving the information of who is in the same vicinities.

Detailed information about Social Networking can be found here.

Photography Geocoding

The popularity of applications, such as Google Earth and Google Maps, and the possibility of posting georeferenced pictures lead to the need of geocoding photos. A geocoded photo has the location of the photographer embedded in the files. This information includes at least latitude and longitude but might include also altitude and the bearing of the camera[3].

The most practical way of geocoding photos is by doing it automatically on the camera if the camera has an embedded GNSS receiver or can be connected to an add-on GNSS receiver. GNSS-enabled mobile phones usually geotag photos automatically[4].

Detailed information about Photography Geocoding can be found here.

Location Based Services

Location Based Services (LBS) include applications that depend on the user location to provide a service/information that is relevant to the user at that location.

LBS normally use mobile devices with positioning ability to provide the service or information to the user. LBS can be used for personal or professional purposes although most of the services covered here are for personal use since professional services will be covered in other sections[5].

Detailed information about Location Based Services can be found here.


  1. ^ In Location-enabled Social Networks the term check-in is often used to refer to the act of posting that the user is in a place or venue