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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everybody!

I'm a software developer and I'm looking for ideas and suggestions for making new Satellite Internet Apps. Please tell me what apps or software you'd like to see or need.

As a developer, I was struck by how little software and apps there are for satellite connections. SMS, email and weather seems to be catered for, but there is little else. General purpose Internet apps and software aren't really suitable since they require more bandwidth than is available or time out with the long delays.

I'm looking to build apps that work on very low bandwidth connections (such as Iridium Go!) and that are very frugal in their data usage. I want to build software that makes that which was previously hard or impossible to do via satellite possible and easy. It won't hurt if it also ends up saving time or money.

I've done satellite work previously, but this would be the first time providing end user software. My specialty is low bitrate encoding and communication which I believe will serve me well when building satellite apps.

Below is a short list of ideas for apps that I've come up with so far. Please let me know if you have better or different ideas or if you like any of mine.


  • Facebook for Satellite
    A Facebook client optimized for satellite links with low bandwidth and long delays. Post and read, upload and download images.
  • Chat
    Group chat for friends and families. Optimized for very low bandwidth, long delays and intermittent connections.
  • Push to talk
    Send and receive audio messages using a very low bitrate. For when you want something more personal than an SMS.
  • Forum browser
    An efficient text only browser for discussion forums like this.
  • Picture uploader
    Upload and download pictures faster, more efficiently and with better quality than via email. Pause and resume transfers, batch transfer for multiple files.
  • News reader
    Catch up on your favorite news sources. Read articles and optionally download pictures and illustrations.

I hope you'll come up with good ideas. If you do, I'll build it :)

P.S. Please let me know what platform you'd like the software or apps on: Android, Apple, Linux, Mac, Windows or other.
 

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my kids can text on their phones if they have wifi even if they dont have a phone contract. i dont know how they do it, but the app gives them an phone number to use. i have texted my kids lots of times that way. could you make a satellite wifi phone texting app?
thanks and blessings
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sure, but you'd still need a satellite phone or data contract for it to work. Wifi texting only works if you have access to wifi and your satellite phone will not have access to wifi without a phone or data contract.

There is no free lunch :)
 

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Due to the expense of satcoms (your lunch comment) - I don't see a lot of app possibilities here. The stuff you've listed would be astronomically expensive wouldn't they?

Maybe Nautical Pong?
 

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my kids can text on their phones if they have wifi even if they dont have a phone contract. i dont know how they do it, but the app gives them an phone number to use. i have texted my kids lots of times that way. could you make a satellite wifi phone texting app?
thanks and blessings
Already exists. DeLorme/Earthmate app combo for texting. $25-$75/mo subscription charge. Not free, but pretty affordable. Worldwide coverage.
 

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How about an app that strings together a bunch of DeLorme texts to form a grib file and then translates it into weather pics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Due to the expense of satcoms (your lunch comment) - I don't see a lot of app possibilities here. The stuff you've listed would be astronomically expensive wouldn't they?
Not necessarily. Iridium GO come with an unlimited plan and others such as BGAN and iSatHub charge by the meabyte, not by the time. If you only use very little data, it works out on BGAN/iSatHub as well.

For example, if the apps are designed to work on Iridium they can only consume about half a megabyte per hour. And that's at full tilt, which is unlikely to happen all the time. This translates to $2 (iSatHub) or $3.5 (BGAN) per hour max.

On Iridium there is no additional charge if you are on the unlimited monthly plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
How about an app that strings together a bunch of DeLorme texts to form a grib file and then translates it into weather pics.
Doable, assuming you have enough patience and the amount of text messages isn't rate shaped or limited. We are talking about perhaps 100 text messages per GRIB file. That's going to take a good while, even if there are no limits on text messages.
 

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Web proxy that will zip or rar or otherwise compress web data and the application on board will decompress the data. This might also offer text only or full data transfer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Web proxy that will zip or rar or otherwise compress web data and the application on board will decompress the data. This might also offer text only or full data transfer.
This is basically what Opera Mini does. Unfortunately this is not enough because even with compression regular websites and applications overwhelm slow satellite links (such as Iridium) or end up costing a lot (BGAN, iSatHub and other which charge by the MB).

What is needed are specialized apps that only transfer the bare minimum of data. This is why I am proposing building new apps.
 

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Satelite wifi, accessible from any wifi enabled device. Free with adverts or a fee without adverts.
 

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[*]Facebook for Satellite
XGate does this.

Interesting idea. Skype for satellites?

[*] Push to talk
Also interesting. I think most people with a satellite device would make a phone call. I could be wrong.

[*] Forum browser
XGate does this. RedPort Optimizer does ad blocking and can block images.

[*] Picture uploader
XGate does this.

[*] News reader
Nice. BBC used to send stripped plain text news with links to more in-depth treatments. I miss that. A plain text version of the iOS News app would be interesting.

P.S. Please let me know what platform you'd like the software or apps on: Android, Apple, Linux, Mac, Windows or other.
iOS and Windows are the biggest market shares I see among cruisers. Android is third.

Web proxy that will zip or rar or otherwise compress web data and the application on board will decompress the data. This might also offer text only or full data transfer.
XGate does this.

Satelite wifi, accessible from any wifi enabled device. Free with adverts or a fee without adverts.
Iridium GO! is satellite data distributed over WiFi on board. All pay to play - nothing ad supported.
 

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Class B AIS does not have the power to beam up to satellites to be recorded by marinetraffic.com
In my last 10 day voyage marinetraffic.com received only 2 position reports from my AIS.
Would there be a method/market to have an app that sends the boat GPS position to MarineTraffic.com?


Mark
 

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Class B AIS does not have the power to beam up to satellites to be recorded by marinetraffic.com
In my last 10 day voyage marinetraffic.com received only 2 position reports from my AIS.
Marinetraffic.com does not currently get data feeds from satellites. They have mostly volunteer terrestrial receivers that feed received AIS sentences to their servers. Lots of the receiving base stations can be located on Google Maps APRS. The one nearest me in Annapolis is at the end of Greenbury Point.

Satellite systems are being used to collect AIS information focused on offshore Class A AIS. Since AIS antennas are vertical they have a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) pattern. That means collecting data means either higher path loss for collection a few degrees above the horizon or higher path loss for near overhead collection where the antenna pattern is poor. The difference between 12.5W (Class A) and 5W or 2W (Class B) doesn't help. Statistically Class A AIS offshore is collected about once an hour. Class B will get through from time to time but less frequently.

Marinetraffic describes their coastal data collection and display as "real time" in marketing materials but it is not. There are delays, usually of minutes and sometimes of hours. Satellite collected data can be many hours late.

Would there be a method/market to have an app that sends the boat GPS position to MarineTraffic.com?
There are at least three smartphone apps that do just that. There is no way to get the data from the phone or Marinetraffic back to a radio transmitter. I can assure you that the big oil tanker making its way up Chesapeake Bay or Long Island Sound or San Fransisco Bay is not using what little Internet access they may have to display Marinetraffic.com. The apps may have some entertainment value but they are in no way contributing to the collision avoidance that is the mission of AIS.
 

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Would it be possible to enter in a float plan. Then populate it with gribs for your expected time out on passage and expected course. Then have satphone only receive changes to original gribs thereby decreasing the amount of data transmitted? Software would reside on laptop on the boat. If major changes required or passage takes longer then new baseline grib transmitted.
 

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Would it be possible to enter in a float plan. Then populate it with gribs for your expected time out on passage and expected course. Then have satphone only receive changes to original gribs thereby decreasing the amount of data transmitted? Software would reside on laptop on the boat. If major changes required or passage takes longer then new baseline grib transmitted.
It is certainly possible. I suspect, given the already compact size of grib files, the additional overhead to manage differential updates would overwhelm and savings in fundamental data load.
 
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