The so-called Internet of Things has been predicted for some time. But to make the vision real devices need connectivity.
Satellite operator Globalstar Inc. is now selling a unit called the STX3 Global Simplex Transmitter that can do that, a chipset the size of a quarter that can be the heart of satellite-based machine to machine (M2M) communications for devices outside the reach of cellular networks.
It can operate for months, if not years, without having to replace batteries over Globalstar’s Simplex data network, the company said in a release.
It’s two-thirds the size the previous generation STX2 chip, so value added resellers or original equipment makers can build even smaller solutions than before.
Globalstar says it could be used to create solutions for monitoring and transmitting data from pipelines, trucks, boats, oil and gas rigs, shipping containers or animals with tracking collars.
A typical OEM solution will include the transmitter, application specific sensors, an interface controller board, a real time clock and a patch antenna, says the company.
Calgary’s Mobiltex Data Ltd. was the first to design a product around the STX3, a remote pipeline monitor product that could be mounted inside existing space-constrained enclosures. Tony da Costa, Mobiltex’s engineering manager, said in a statement that low recurring monthly service costs, low transmitter power requirements and Globalstar’s network coverage helped in choosing the product.
“We see a huge opportunity for VARs and OEMs to incorporate the STX3 chipset into compact and efficient communications devices targeted at a wide and fast-growing range of vertical markets,” Globalstar CEO Jay Monroe said in a statement. “With its unrivalled low power consumption and small size, this chipset has the potential to accelerate the adoption of satellite-based M2M – both satellite-only solutions and hybrid cellular/satellite offerings.”
Last month Globalstar announced it will soon start selling its Sat-Fi voice and data service that integrates between any Wi-Fi device and its new satellite constellation. With it Globalstar customers can use their smart phones and existing phone numbers to communicate over the company’s satellite network when they’re outside cellular coverage.
It needs an app on the client and a Sat-Fi hotspot.
The service is expected to receive approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the second quarter. Industry Canada approval is also needed.