October 25, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
63°F

Getting there can be simple with GPS

By BRIAN SCHWARTZ
Cybertalk

The basic concept of a car really hasn’t changed since the beginning. You have four wheels, an engine that burns fuel, seats, a steering wheel and pedals. The basic concept of the car is still there, but technology has changed how we look at it for entertainment, safety and comfort. This month’s article will be some of the latest technology that you can find in newer cars. 

Entertainment
I love it when I go to classic car shows and see the old style radios and 8-track players with their “high-tech” one speaker. That was great stuff then, at least according to my parents. Time really has changed how we look at the console in the middle of the dashboard. 

The classic radio, or head unit, still exists in most of the cars you see today. Built-in is the AM and FM radio with favorite buttons, a tape deck (in very rare occurrences) and disc slot.
The basic AM/FM radio concept really hasn’t changed, but with modern radios, the song title and artist will scroll on the LED screen of the radio, allowing you to see what you are listening to at any given moment. The tape deck has pretty much stayed the same without any advances. 

The disc slot is where the cool stuff is happening. Originally you could listen to just basic 80-minute CDs. But with the more advanced head units acting more and more like a computer, you can now burn CDs in a special format on your computer that will fit a couple hundred songs on it. The latest car radios can now start using DVD discs and hold even more songs then a standard CD. 

Many car manufacturers are starting to offer touch screen or button-driven LCD screens in cars. This allows people to use the screen as a display to watch movies, watch the rear backup camera on the car and help people get where they are going. 

Getting there is Pretty Simple
OK, so GPS doesn’t stand for “Getting there is Pretty Simple.” It actually stands for Global Positioning Unit. The concept is to simply program the device with the location where you want to go, and it does the rest. No more unfolding and folding the map or stopping at gas stations along the way to stop for directions. 

Here’s a really simple explanation on how a GPS works. When you power on the unit or your car (if it’s built in to that LCD display), the GPS starts seeking the satellites in the sky. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple minutes for a GPS to lock on to a satellite. Once it does, the satellite will start sending longitude and latitude coordinates of the GPS’ current position. The GPS then goes to that location on the map and basically does a “You are here.” You tell it where you want to go, and it finds the quickest route there. You also can tell it to take the scenic route or avoid certain types of roads like unpaved, highway or residential. Updates for the maps are provided either every six months or year. 

Schwartz, a graduate of Cloverleaf High School and the Medina County Career Center, is a student at the University of Akron.