Can IoT satellite services support industries ranging from energy to manufacturing? With nanosatellites they may
A new nanosatellite space internet network is going live soon. The company behind it is Hiber and, ahead of the big day, Coen Janssen, director of Business Intelligence at Hiber tells IoT Now’s Jeremy Cowan about its flagship customers like the British Antarctic Survey and EduClima. Here he explains how its IoT network could aid a range of industries such as manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, environment and energy.
IoT Now: Can you tell us about Hiber’s history and its IoT services?
Coen Janssen: Hiber is an Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity provider. Taking inspiration from the changing nature of the aerospace industry – and its transition from government-led initiatives to exciting new commercial applications – we launched our two inaugural nanosatellites in late 2018. Once live, these satellites will help us provide IoT connectivity to up to 90% of the globe that is currently without a network. For example, this means that if you have shipping operations in remote corners of the globe, users will always be able to connect and share data using the network to communicate with other people and machines around the world.
We established the company roughly two and a half years ago under the name Magnitude Space. Later, the decision was made to rebrand as Hiber because devices on the ground “hibernate” until our nano-sats fly above them during orbit several times a day, triggering them to autonomously sync.
IoT Now: What led you to launch Hiberband? And what are Hiber’s corporate goals?
CJ: Our ultimate goal has always been to arm industries with more data. With increased insights that the IoT can provide, we believe people can be empowered to make better decisions in business, but also serve to enrich peoples’ lives around the planet. We’ve seen this already taking shape within the agriculture industry, measuring soil moisture and helping to monitor stations measuring the effects of climate change.
We currently offer a daily service in which our customers can sync up with our network. By 2020, we are aiming to expedite this into an hourly service worldwide, with the end goal being to provide a service that can send messages as often as our customers need.
IoT Now: What kind of connectivity do you offer and what size of message can you send?
CJ: In the United States, Europe and Russia we currently provide a service in which customers can access the network roughly four times a day, and this transfers to roughly once per day on a wider global level. With this, we enable messages of 144 bytes of data – similar to an SMS or a tweet – to be sent wherever customers may be located.
IoT Now: How do you differentiate from other IoT connectivity services?
CJ: One of the ways in which Hiber is truly distinctive is its global perspective – our network touches every corner of the globe at least once a day, in every continent in the world. A key differentiator is that similar providers have to use changing frequencies across different territories, meaning they often aren’t operating 100% within the law. We have the use of one global standard – this means our customers can use the network with minimum interference knowing that they are conforming with local regulations the world over.
IoT Now: I understand you now have two satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). When will the network go live, and when will it reach full functionality?
CJ: We are expecting the network to go-live commercially within the next few weeks or so. As we currently stand, we have launched and commissioned our initial two satellites, meaning that we are capable of sending data from the ground to the satellites. We are currently working with our customers to fine-tune the data-sending process and making sure that the network is operating according to their needs.
IoT Now: Cost and power use have been among the hurdles for satellite IoT services to date. What does the service cost? And how is it low power?
CJ: When we established Hiber, we did so on the premise that we would have three central pillars that would underpin the business. The first of these is that we’re global: we provide connectivity for our customers wherever they are in the world.
Equally important is that we are low-cost and low-power. Our service starts at just a few euros per year which is over 30 times cheaper than current satellite providers. Our low costs are helping democratise IoT capabilities – many use cases that were not previously affordable are now possible. In terms of power usage, we’re currently comparable with the likes of LoRa and SigFox, meaning our customers can sync their devices to our satellites using minimal energy.
IoT Now: Which market sectors are you targeting first for Hiberband?
CJ: We’re starting out with sectors that are able to get the most immediate value from our network which have turned out to be logistics, tank & silo monitoring and agriculture, many of whom use Hiber to either stream data that their devices collect or send out data on device health. For example, Ovinto uses Hiber to stream data around the world on the health of remote railcars and their cargo: what is the condition of the cargo? What is the internal temperature and air press of the cargo? Is the railcar itself operating well or does it have a fault? All those sorts of questions.
Another customer is Blik Sensing which uses Hiber to send data from remote borewells to monitor groundwater levels – this information is then used by governments, industries and farmers to predict floods or droughts and monitor the impact of climate change on the world’s water.
As we have been growing, the rate of new inbound use-cases has taken everybody by surprise. We’re looking forward to seeing where further applications of our technology can help enrich people’s lives and empower better decision-making.
Coen Janssen, director of Business Intelligence at Hiber was talking to Jeremy Cowan, editorial director of IoT Now.