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After 2 ½ years, Hiber’s nano satellites make affordable access to the IoT a reality.
Two and a half years ago, the founders of Hiber wondered why only 10% of the globe was covered with gsm and mobile networks. Something that really sucked. There had to be a way to make connecting to the IoT affordable and accessible for everyone on our beautiful planet. Not just for the affluent, heavily populated and first-world nations. Today, after a lot of hard work, inspirational thinking, late nights and probably too much coffee Hiber’s dream is almost a reality.
Hiber’s global IoT connectivity service (yes, we must find a better way to describe it) is known as Hiberband. It is the world’s first truly affordable Low Power Global Area Network (LPGAN). The satellites are in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at just 600km above Earth’s surface.
Late 2018 saw the successful launch of Hiber’s first two nano satellites. The first of many. HiberOne launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on Tuesday, 29th November. HiberTwo, launched a few days later on Monday, 3rd December from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. We’re please to say both our space babies are doing well and pinging ‘beeps’ back to Mother Earth already. Ahhh!
Everyone at Hiber feels like a proud parent. So, it was especially rewarding to know the world feels the same as we were voted the Commercial Start-Up Launch of the Year at Amazon Web Services 2018 in Las Vegas (joining previous winners $1bn brands Pinterest and AirBnB).
Thank you world, it means a lot.
Unlike traditional satellites which operate at 36,000km, are often the size of a bus, take years to develop and cost millions of dollars, Hiber’s satellites are tiny, made up of 10cm2 cubes, easy to develop and operate at just 600km. Making them highly practical and affordable. However, launching our satellites is only the start of our journey to revolutionise the world’s IoT connectivity.
Today, Hiber’s nano satellites are ready and waiting above us to start receiving and sending data. Despite being tiny, the 144 byte data packages they use are anything but petite. This ability to send large these amounts of data affordably really does open up the IoT to everyone, anywhere on our planet. Be that the busiest city, darkest jungle, widest ocean, highest mountain, coldest pole or, as we at Hiber like to say, even your mom’s backyard.
This is where the dedication of the Hiber backroom team really come to the forefront. From day one they have been working towards and beyond a successful launch. So let’s have a look at the service in a little more detail and how much effort, and donuts, it takes to get operational.
Months before blasting into space, the countdown begins for our tech guys and gals. Sensor antennas, the platform and payloads are all tested way before launch. This is because the moment our satellites are integrated into the quadpack deployer (yes, it’s another name we must change), the system that carries the satellites into orbit, we can’t physically touch them again. However, this isn’t ‘dump it and dash’. Every second and every hour of every day that follows before launch, we’re constantly monitoring systems. Double, triple and quadruple checking everything. Well, you can’t take anything for granted in space.
Even though you know we’ve done all we can and more to ensure a smooth launch deployment, it doesn’t make it any less nerve wracking until the first live tests from space are done. After all, there’s no emergency call out service if there’s an issue in space. “Houston, we really don’t want a problem”, to paraphrase Apollo 13.
Testing everything works perfectly and the network functions is called ‘network validation’. In different locations around the world, some remote, some built-up, we’ve placed test antennas ready to send and receive data test messages.
After a few days of sending and receiving test messages, the collected data can be analyzed. Is it globally possible to link with the satellite? How strong is the link? How much data ‘noise’ is there around the world? Are results different in different regions? Ultimately, does the system work how it should everywhere? This is where everyone at Hiber really holds their breath, so to speak.
Of course, we’d like everything to be perfect but we know there will be things that need sorting. So, if we find anything, we’re ready with software updates on the ground and in space. Ensuring we’ve done everything possible to get it ready for our eager early adopters to starting playing with.
Hiber’s Pilot Partners play an essential role in developing numerous test platforms that help the service become operational. Their imaginative solutions have seen antennas in more than 20 different devices. A buoy, climate station, groundwater meter and vessel monitoring system are just a few. Prototypes have been tested in our anechoic chamber; a room that removes all ‘noise’, sound interference and electromagnetic waves. That way we know our pilot partners’ devices send and receive data as they should ready for distribution around the world.
In the film Alien, they say “In space no one can hear you scream.” Well, the same is true of an anechoic chamber.
All the laboratory test in the world and no substitute for going live in the real world. So, once the devices have been tested and function as they should, they will be sent to our early customers to carry out field tests literally in the their fields. Across every continent, often in remote areas, people in agriculture, fishing, energy, transportation, logistics, environmental and maritime will test our network and devices to breaking point and beyond. Can they survive tropical rain? Do they work under cover? Are oceans waves too unstable? We’ve even got one project travelling across Antarctica. So that’s the low temperature test sorted.
Only when all the field tests have been done will our network be ready for service. And Hiberband can be used by anyone, anywhere on Earth!
We do not know what the future holds. But what Hiberband does is open up the world of IoT to everyone on Earth. No longer will people be limited by a lack of connectivity, lack of power or lack of finances. Hiber have changed all that. In fact, the only limit will be people’s imagination to what they can do with Hiberband’s limitless potential.
We can’t wait to see the ideas we haven’t even imagined. To see everyone in the world transform their futures.
Beautiful planet, beautiful people. Tomorrow really is yours to shape for good.