How Satellite Tech Is Coming Closer To Home


As the world changes and technology changes, endless possibilities are opened up to investors, entrepreneurs, businesses, and private hobbyists. Even 3D printing, something that previously seemed to exist purely in the realm of science fiction, is now becoming increasingly practical and commercially available to all.

However, despite having been around for over fifty years, satellite technology has largely remained out of reach to all due to price and practicality, but things are beginning to change.

First of all, consider the satellite phone. Arguably the most commonly available piece of satellite tech beyond the satellite TV dish, yet still expensive and somewhat unwieldy, without the features to fully replace a regular smartphone. Anyone in need of a satellite phone will likely still have to carry their main phone with them – until now.

The London School of Business and Finance recently sat down with Jim Thomson, creator of SATcase, a new product that, through a casing and app, converts any smartphone in to a satellite phone, allowing for global communications and tracking – even in the most remote corners of the globe.  Combining the practicality, contact list, and always-there immediacy of a smartphone with the communication potential of a satellite phone is a genius move, reducing the amount of gear a traveller needs to take with them.

But what about those who have dreams of launching their own satellites? Such a project would usually set you back millions, but not anymore. The Guardian recently spoke to Tom Walkinshaw, founder of the PocketQube Shop about his new startup that would allow someone to build and launch their own satellites for as little as $30,000 or £20,000.

Perhaps still out of reach to many, but this development will allow small businesses and educational institutions to join governments and multinationals in entering space. Of course, satellites from PocketQube are only 5cm3 and, built using technology present in laptops and smartphones, won’t be as powerful as those NASA have access to, but such an advancement would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Tracking planes, taking photos, scanning buildings, monitoring weather or flood damage, and whatever else you can think of is all within reach.

Satellites are still a global concern: Fortune reports that Boeing is, at present, working on deals to build communications satellites for technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon or Apple, extending their global coverage. Wall Street firms are also using satellite surveillance to determine new investment opportunities by monitoring car parks to identify popular businesses.

It has taken a long time, but satellites and the use of satellite tech may be coming ever-closer within reach. Although it will still be many years until everyone is able to afford their own personal satellites – if indeed it ever does become viable – the potential for use of the technology is continuing to grow and diversify. Not even the sky is the limit.