An event organised by the Satellite Applications Catapult focused on six challenges presented by the ESA and the UK Space Agency

Satellite app hackathon reaches high and plumbs depths

Innovators, coders, designers and engineers from across the UK have met at an event to investigate the business potential of a number of innovative applications for space-based communications resources.

The event, which was organised by the Satellite Applications Catapult, one of a network of UK technology and innovation centres established by the Technology Strategy Board, focused on six challenges presented by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency.

“Over 35 delegates attended the event, and a large proportion stayed through the night to work on their projects. It is fantastic to see new people innovating with satellite solutions and the results show the potential opportunities that can be developed,” said Antonia Jenkinson, chief financial and operations officer of the Satellite Applications Catapult.

The solution selected as the best focused on two challenges presented by telecoms-satellite operator Inmarsat. The team of six people, who were initially total strangers, came up with a solution for precise positioning of satellites and their optimum coverage. The team, as well as the panel of judges, believes it can be used to calculate which communications satellite spot beam to focus more power/bandwidth on – due to customer demand or a crisis – and to optimise the power usage of the satellite.

Other solutions developed focused, for example, on how to use satellite data for road maintenance or how to use a smartphones' sensors to optimise the GPS battery usage. Among the quirkier projects were a real-estate search-engine empowered with environmental information and remote monitoring of toilets failures on trains.

“Each team will be given the opportunity to further develop their solution with support from either the Catapult, ESA BIC or Technology Strategy Board, if their solution offers a potential market opportunity,” Jenkinson said. The Satellite Applications Catapult plans to organise a similar event later this year.

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