Space Products and Services
Retail, Finance, and Corporate Services
Location-based imagery data increasingly provides business and market intelligence to companies. This service combines satellite-based location data with geographic information systems. Satellite surveillance technology is now also being used in the financial sector.
In October 2010, Toray Industries, a Japanese textile company, and J-Space, a company licensed to market JAXA technologies, announced plans to develop sportswear out of material originally designed for use in astronaut clothing.
In the information age, space products and services have become increasingly important to the retail, finance, and corporate service sectors. A healthy industry requires reliable access to information in order to reach customers and develop products. Satellite services are versatile, benefiting sophisticated, highly modernized economies as well as poorer, developing regions.
GPS-enabled phone applications are connecting businesses to their customers in new ways. Smartphone applications such as FourSquare, Google Latitude, and Yelp use GPS-enabled phones to allow users visiting a restaurant or store to check in and instantly share their location with friends.
Space can contribute not only to the products and services that individuals purchase and use, but also to those used by entire companies. A spinoff technology based on NASA’s Nebula cloud computing platform is now helping companies to use their information technology resources more efficiently.
Inspired by the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Nestlé devised its own version of the Golden Ticket contest, but with a decidedly space-age twist. Customers in the United Kingdom and Ireland who discover one of six GPS trackers packaged with a Nestlé chocolate bar will win £10,000 ($15,706).
Innovative companies are constantly looking for new ways to bring spacederived technology to the retail market. A company started by MIT graduates, called Ministry of Supply, is bringing phase-change materials used in NASA spacesuits to Earth as a product called the “Apollo dress shirt.” The fabric regulates heat, moisture, and body odor, while maximizing wearer comfort. To fund the development, Ministry of Supply started a crowd-funding campaign via the Kickstarter website.
Satellite internet is a suitable alternative to conventional cellular and ground-based internet for businesses and farmers operating in remote or difficult-to-reach areas. In 2012, MWEB Business launched a new satellite internet service in South Africa that is designed to benefit farmers, game lodge owners, mining and construction companies, and other customers in areas of the country where conventional services are unavailable. Satellite-based services are also immune to cable theft, a common problem in many developing areas, which can affect the availability of fixed-line communication infrastructure in the region.
Vineyards in South Africa recently began using satellite data to increase the yield of grape harvests and produce higher quality wine while using less water. The GrapeLook service provided by a company called WaterWatch was developed in collaboration with ESA, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in South Africa.
Scientific and technological advances from space have added a performance-improving tool to the arsenal of professional sports teams and training centers. Kinexon One is a new addition that promises to improve individual and team performance by providing highly accurate data of athlete movements during training. Smaller than a mobile phone, the device contains both inertial sensors and a GNSS receiver. The combination of location information from these two sources provides precise location tracking as athletes move.