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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Connected Communications

Satellite connectivity for challenges like emergency communications. 

Connecting machines in remote regions  by Zach Winn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On Nov. 26, seven fishermen aboard a small fishing boat off the coast of Maharashtra in western India were struck with panic when their vessel was damaged and began to sink. The panic was warranted: The boat was too far from shore to radio for help.

Tens of thousands of fishermen find themselves in a similar situation around the world every year. Globally, the vast majority of small, deep-sea fishing vessels do their work totally disconnected, leaving them vulnerable to storms and other disasters.

At the root of the problem is the high cost of satellite connectivity in areas like oceans, forests, and mountains, which make up the majority of the Earth's landmass. Now the startup Skylo, co-founded by Parth Trivedi SM '14, is offering the ability to communicate with satellites from anywhere on the planet for less than 10 dollars a month.

Skylo's team has developed a new antenna and communication protocol that allows machines, sensors, and other devices to efficiently transmit data to the geostationary satellites already deployed in space. The company says its technology enables satellite communications at less than 5 percent of the cost of existing solutions and could bring an "internet of things" revolution in the world's most remote regions.

With the Skylo Hub, which resembles a modem and contains the company's proprietary antennae, deep-sea fishermen can go from being isolated and vulnerable to having the ability to send out emergency communications, receive storm alerts, and even sell their catch before they return to port. Farmers in remote regions can get real-time data on weather forecasts, soil content, and crop health. Truck drivers and fleet operators that were previously invisible for large stretches of their journeys can be precisely located and their cargo monitored. ... " 

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