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Satellite Lamps – An Exploration of GPS

Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jorn Knutsen, and Tim Arnall have created a fascinating work called Satellite Lamps which attempts to illustrate the unseen presence of GPS in modern life.

GPS has become fundamentally ubiquitous in our every day lives. The obvious interactions that we see include navigation on our smart phones and GPS units inside of our cars navigating us to our final destination. Other location based uses include the navigation and control of aircraft, drones and shipping.

Utility companies are using GPS for high accuracy mapping of above ground and under ground infrastructure improving the safe operations of their systems. Natural resource firms leverage the technology to improve their operations and again, improve safety on mine sites and log yards by reducing the risks of collisions between machines among other uses.

Even tools which are seemingly unrelated to GPS still leverage the technology such as the timing systems in cell towers which provide our cellular phone coverage. Google even uses GPS technology within the Spanner project to ensure that the Globally-Distributed Database (that almost all of us use daily) that powers their search engine remains globally consistent at all times.

Within the Satellite Lamps project, the research team demonstrate through the brightness of the lamp exactly how strong the signal is at any given point during the day. The intention is to shed some light on the complexity and sophistication of the unseen satellite’s orbiting our world.

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