EU Space enables an interconnected future

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15 January 2019
The Interconnectivity session during the 2018 European Space Week was packed with informative presentations from a range of stakeholders, projects and companies.
The Interconnectivity session during the 2018 European Space Week was packed with informative presentations from a range of stakeholders, projects and companies.

As was highlighted at the 2018 European Space Week special session on Interconnectivity, European space technology is providing smart, new applications that deliver the information we need to make faster, easier and more efficient decisions.

According to a study conducted by CISCO, by as early as next year, there will be more than 30 billion connected objects in the world. From connected watches to cars and even houses, this unprecedented shift towards interconnectivity will transform the global economy.

Driving this revolution in interconnectivity are space technologies, including GNSS and Earth observation. “Everything from logistics to agriculture, outdoor recreation and the Internet of Things, depend on such space technologies as EGNOS and Galileo,” said Justyna Redelkiewicz, Head of Section LBS & IoT at GSA, who chaired a special session on Interconnectivity during the 2018 European Space Week. “Space technologies are also at the centre of many of the latest consumer applications – and their use will only increase in the near future.”

Everyone, everywhere, and everything

On the topic of How to Connect and Locate Things, the Alliance of Internet of Things Innovation’s Francois Fisher discussed both the challenges that European industry currently faces and how IoT can help overcome these challenges. The European Commission’s Christoph Kautz provided an overview of areas relevant to interconnectivity, with a focus on the areas where the European Commission is playing an active role (i.e., artificial intelligence, IoT standardisation, E112 pilots, and digital maps). David Fernandez of Sigfox noted that by 2020 his company’s terrestrial network would be complemented by a global capability, thanks to a satellite communication service.

Satellites in the scrum

Speaking of satellites and sports, Frederic Valois of Thales Services took the European Space Week stage to introduce the Thales GEONAV service. The seamless indoor/outdoor location solution is currently being used to provide critical information to rugby teams in France. Via a hybridisation of ultra-wideband and GNSS, GEONAV provides teams with real-time measurements and monitoring of a player’s position, speed and even heart rate.

“Because this technology can provide precise and secured location both inside and outside, its use goes beyond sports and can include helping to locate people and assets,” explained Valois. “It is innovation like this that will position European industry as a major actor in the LBS market.”

Accurate and affordable positioning

Another key market trend highlighted during the session was the shift towards accurate and affordable positioning. “We are witnessing exciting times, as low-cost, high-precision GNSS receivers are coming onto the market and challenging the dominance of the older and expensive models,” said Xavier Banqué-Casanovas, CEO of Rokubun.

Rokubun is the company behind ARGONAUT, a fully-integrated GNSS receiver designed to meet the need for high-precision geo-location data. The receiver combines an advanced, multi-constellation GNSS receiver and a powerful navigation processing cloud service to provide users with more accurate and affordable geolocation.

Rokubun is now part of consortium developing FLAMINGO – a high accuracy positioning service for use by mass market applications.

A packed agenda

The Interconnectivity session was packed with informative presentations from a range of stakeholders, projects and companies. You will be able to access the presentations here, as soon as they are available.

Thanks to initiatives like the Kinéis constellation, in the coming years, interconnectivity will be available to everyone, everywhere and for all devices. “Kinéis IoT devices will integrate seamlessly, need little power and be fully compatible with other systems,” said Marc Leminh, Director of Development at CLS. “It will also be robust, reliable and inexpensive.”

Specifically designed for IoT, the Kinéis nanosatellite satcom constellation will provide connectivity for a whole host of activities, all having in common one feature: all being away from the reach of terrestrial networks. 

Talking about new IoT chipsets and trends in digital mapping, Sony’s Rajni Agarval introduced the company’s low power, multi-constellation GNSS chipsets for wearables, trackers and telematics. On the mapping side, David Barbier from TomTom presented high definition maps created via professional methods (i.e., survey vehicles) and crowdsourcing. “Open source data has proved to be a highly reliable source of information for TomTom,” he said. “Currently, 400,000 kilometres of roads covered with high definition maps are being utilised by many OEMs.”

The session also put the spotlight on a number of innovative start-ups, including Centrip, a tracking system for children; OPT/NET BV, a classification service for Earth observation data; TensorScience, a geocaching smartphone application that recently won the GSA’s Geekie Award; and +39, an app for guiding children with autism that won the Galileo Hackathon in Padua.  

“What each of these presentations make abundantly clear is that the not-so-distant future will be defined by interconnectivity – and enabled by European space technology,” concluded Redelkiewicz.

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Updated: Dec 08, 2022