Space Products & Innovation
Some garment makers, such as Björn Borg, are attempting to address a very real need for heat resistance in underclothes. Working with materials used to protect astronauts, garment manufacturers are heeding the wishes of Swedish steelworkers, a demographic working in very heated conditions, and coming up with cool solutions.
Counting white bears on a white background is a challenge when the polar bears are only yards away from an observer on the ground. Imagine how challenging it must be to see the bears in imagery from satellites. White specks on a sheet of ice are very difficult to detect from hundreds of miles away.
Imagery and communications satellites were both used in search and rescue efforts for the Malaysian Airlines MH370 passenger airplane. Imagery of the search areas was provided on sites such as Tomnod in hopes that crowdsourcing imagery analysis would help in locating evidence of where the airplane might have disappeared.
Imagery intelligence is becoming more available to the public, as services such as Allsource Analysis gained attention in the news. In October 2014, the Longmont, Colorado, company wrote a comprehensive summary in which it identified a new kind of North Korean submarine in port during its monitoring of North Korean political prisoner camps.
Trains are using satellite technology—such as position, navigation, and timing (PNT) receivers and communications—to provide a train’s precise position to the people who manage European railway systems. While a train’s movements and schedule might be generally well-known, the PNT reporting will allow for a train’s precise position to be reported to a rail traffic control center, using a combination of 3G/4G data and satellite-based broadband services.
Some products tie together multiple space-based technologies, combining them for use in the aviation industry. Hardware and software products, such as 3D-Pilot developed by avionTek, are designed to give pilots situational awareness while flying and landing in low visibility conditions and bad weather.
Ride-sharing services are an increasingly popular form of urban transportation that depends on geolocation services provided by satellites. Companies such as Uber and Lyft offer smartphone applications that allow a prospective rider to use the smartphone’s satellite navigation chip to identify the location at which the rider wishes to be picked up.
Satellite simulation software and banking fraud prevention software—one became more robust and accurate thanks to the experience garnered from the other. Feedzai is a company that took its expertise in developing ESA satellite mission simulation software for space and applied it to the detection of fraudulent activities on Earth. The particular satellite mission software created by Feedzai’s founders simulates a complex “software universe” that was originally developed as a solution to train operators on satellites and systems while in development.
As space activities and businesses using space assets grow, entrepreneurs are sensing opportunities in a growing space market. Mixing terrestrial legal expertise with Earth observation technologies, some lawyers are beginning to understand the benefits of space assets in cases that might have otherwise been difficult to win. Legal companies such as Air & Space Evidence are offering specialized space-centric services to clients who might need them. The company uses satellite imagery as part of its toolkit to combat fraud, find and monitor illegal activities, verify environmental claims, and conduct other activities.
Whether using multispectral imagery from satellite imagery providers such as DigitalGlobe, or synthetic aperture radar (SAR) products from satellites such as the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) TerraSAR-X, law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom and other countries are learning how crime-related investigations can benefit from satellite assistance. The constabulary is using SAR and imagery to reduce costs and time associated with conducting searches for hidden graves in urban locations.