The Internet of Things (IoT) is steadily becoming the Internet of Everything as every possible object – from buildings, utilities, and cars to baby bottles, forks, and ingested medication – can be connected to networks that capture a steady stream of information about the people using them.
However, none of this growth is possible without location awareness provided by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).
Viewed as a utility often taken for granted, GNSS enables real-time and accurate product tracking, telematics, timing, and other GP-enabled machine-to-machine communication. As the IoT market continues to expand, so will the demands and expectations placed on these satellite systems.
GNSS steps up its IoT-enablement game
Now that connectivity and mobile devices are natural aspects of everyday life, more people are expecting to stay connected. Whether they or their possessions are located in a remote forest, mountainous environment, or the middle of a city lined with blocks of skyscrapers, no one wants to have service disrupted whenever a receiver’s line of sight to the navigation satellites is blocked.
For years, different GNSS systems, primarily the United States’ GPS and Russia’s GLONASS, have allowed the military and civil segments of the world economy to detect their devices and compute location accurately and securely. However, the more 5G, automated driving, and smart cities become mainstream realities, it’s becoming clear that a broader range of location-based applications will need to be supported to meet specific market and individual needs.
The European Union (EU) is hoping that its Galileo satellite navigation system is a step towards satisfying evolving IoT need and enabling manufacturers and developers to create new devices and applications that leverage stronger GNSS signals. And it looks like the EU is right as the chipset market is already producing and offering Galileo-ready devices such as smartphones and in-vehicle navigation systems, even though the system is only a little more than halfway deployed and will not be fully operational until 2020.
What next-gen GNSS means for your business
Galileo is undoubtedly an excellent opportunity to provide that added layer of GNSS support that GPS and GLONASS provide. However, businesses will still need to embed specific software into their current IoT systems to benefit from the latest Galileo features. Galileo, in fact, has been designed to provide something more than simple positioning. It will provide an extension to the COSPAS/SARSAT constellation, which requires additional decoding capabilities and provides ACK messaging to the user involved in a distress call.
Here are five areas that businesses should consider now:
- Verification of data integrity: Unlike its GNSS predecessors, Galileo offers more than positioning, navigation, and timing services; it also provides verification of the integrity and accuracy of that data. IoT modules and applications will need to find a way to update data systems to leverage integrity messaging to provide users with value-add services in industries such as maritime, rail, logistics, and automotive.
- Dual-frequency receptivity: As a standard, Galileo offers dual frequencies to deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the meter. When combined with GPS, the GNSS can pinpoint the location of an object within centimeters. By taking advantage of valuable IoT module features such as dead reckoning and embedded MEMS sensors, the dual frequency capability provides a positioning solution to the edge of the technology. The accuracy will be greatly improved; however, businesses will need to take step forward in adopting new hardware layouts and processing computations.
- Testing with a device twin: As they encounter new IoT challenges, businesses will need to check module functionality without adding risk to their operational assets and people. By making a digital replica of the module, developers can test the connectivity among the device, module, and satellite to determine the best way to improve communication between the device layer and the front-end layer.
- Battery tradeoff: As the use of GNSS receivers in personal devices increases, the size of the devices and their batteries will likely decrease. As mobile devices may increase in size with a new release, there is a distinct tradeoff of optimized function and battery life. The more satellites in the Galileo constellation that are tracked, the more power you need from the battery. For this reason, a perfect hardware setup is a key factor for new coming multi-constellation applications.
- Security: Unlike its American GPS predecessor, Galileo offers intrinsic anti-jamming and anti-spoofing protection for civilian users with a built-in method of digitally signing satellite signals. This added line of defense will help ensure that devices and the systems connected to them won't fall victim to hackers looking to redirect a device’s transmission or misreport location. However, businesses need to adopt a receiver specifically designed to verify the digital signatures from the Galileo satellites.
Galileo is just the beginning of an era of spectacular technology that will increase the functionality of locations-based devices. Very soon, easy access to information on the position of people and services will become the standard for mainstream as well as niche use cases for the IoT.
As opportunities for innovation emerge and chipset technologies evolve, businesses will be able to leverage new ways to answer the fast-changing requirements of the marketplace. For this reason, IoT solutions should employ GNSS chipsets that have the leading-edge technology necessary to take advantage of today’s sophisticated satellite systems and the flexibility to seize future opportunities.