How does the use of GPS affect people?

I’m a couple of chapters into reading Re-Engineering Humanity from Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger, which includes a discussion of the effects of GPS. So, I thought I would take a look at the literature.

  • “Results showed that GPS users traveled longer distances and made more stops during the walk than map users and direct-experience participants. Also, GPS users traveled more slowly, made larger direction errors, drew sketch maps with poorer topological accuracy, and rated wayfinding tasks as more difficult than direct-experience participants. Characteristics of navigation with these three learning media and possible reasons for the ineffectiveness of the GPS-based navigation system are discussed.” (link)

  • “Experimental recall of spatial and semantic information indicates that using a road map enables subjects to demonstrate a significantly better spatial understanding, identify semantic elements more often using common terms, place semantic elements in spatial locations with greater accuracy and recall semantic elements in tighter clusters than when using a GPS. We conclude that a spatial understanding is a necessary framework for organizing semantic information that is useful for inferred tasks.” (link)

  • “Navigating from a paper map required most mental effort and both young and older cyclists preferred electronic over paper map navigation. In particular a turn-by-turn dedicated guidance device was favoured. Visual maps are in particular useful for cyclists with higher spatial skills. Turn-by-turn information is used by all cyclists, and it is useful to make these directions available in all devices.” (link)

  • “The results revealed that the drivers performed better when using a portable navigation system compared to those using a paper map, in terms of efficiency to destination and driving performance. In addition, drivers could save time and gasoline using a portable navigation system when in an unfamiliar region, and driving performance may be safer, despite the fact that the display screen of the phone is small.” (link)

  • “In particular, the visual distraction of the use of navigation systems in comparison to traditional map-based navigation was examined by means of eye-tracking and the monitoring of driving dynamics. Differences in routing were also explored. Data analysis indicates increasing road safety when a navigation system is used in unfamiliar areas. Fewer gazes exceeding 2 seconds were found for users of the navigation system whereas map navigation leads to higher eyes-off-the-road time.” (link)

  • “Participants’ performance using GPS on the road was significantly better than with printed directions.” (link)


First published Aug 9, 2019