Insight | Can you imagine a world with 50 billion connected objects?


Can you imagine a world with 50 billion connected objects?


David Bath, Inmarsat’s Senior Director, System Architecture Strategy, looks at the potential explosion of remote automisation and connected platforms with the introduction of our credit-card sized BRM hardware, enabling the Internet of Everywhere

We live in an increasingly connected world where decisions need to be taken on the basis of real-time data. It’s a world where the form factor of our devices needs to be moulded and shaped to the task at hand. We use tablets when we’re mobile, we use computers built into our cars when we drive, we use cloud services when we want to do computationally intensive tasks. They all have computing and connectivity but scaled and shaped for the right application.

Machines that weren’t historically connected, such as cars, shipping containers and agricultural machinery, or were only periodically connected, now require 24/7 access so they are always reachable, always able to be commanded, and ready to change their behaviour at a moment’s notice. Whether that’s one of the 50 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) connected objects projected by Cisco by 2020 or part of the $7 trillion GDP gain in the US alone for the Industrial Internet by 2030, predicted by Accenture, or just bringing the Internet to places that have no other route.

These connected applications are specialist and they require deep business knowledge beyond the connectivity. For example, a company that knows all there is to know about micro-power generation doesn’t necessarily know anything about how a tractor works, or what the needs of an autonomous oceanography vessel are. They all need connectivity, but the application of that connectivity is highly specialised.

What are we doing to help stimulate this growth in connectivity?

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow, we’ve introduced the Inmarsat BGAN Radio Module (BRM) to make it easier and cheaper for application developers to build satellite-connected products and enable the millions of new connected objects and machines, without the need for a wealth of in-depth knowledge about satellites and how they work.

At the heart of BRM lies all the technology and IP necessary to interface with a complex satellite network, embodying it in a small, cheap, simple to use module.

We’re taking millions of lines of code, hundreds of thousands of hours of developing, testing and debugging, and thousands of pages of specification and delivering them as a pre-tested, pre-certified module.

By taking away the huge start-up cost for our partners and developers to build a satellite-connected device, they can concentrate on putting their development dollars into the differentiators that drive their business.

The BRM provides a common platform that supports all kinds of final products, whether for land, sea or air.

Why does the BRM matter for developers?

  • It’s a credit-card sized hardware module that’s been designed API-first with industry standard open interfaces for data, control and radio. Anyone who has ever used a Raspberry Pi or Arduino board will be immediately at home.
  • It’s been built with a modern REST web services API at the core of the configuration and control, whether you want to build a rich human interface or an intelligent application that can manipulate multiple connections and qualities of service to adapt in real time to changing business needs.
  • It’s been built with an intelligent antenna interface that senses the type of antenna connected and adapts its behaviour accordingly enabling truly plug and play applications.
  • It will shorten the development and certification time dramatically enabling new applications to reach the market faster.
  • It’s the fastest way to embed ultra-reliable, global IP connectivity into any device, anywhere on the planet. It enables the Internet of Everywhere (IoEw).

What do we expect to see as a result?

We believe that the BRM will lead to remote automation on an unprecedented scale – whether that’s autonomous farming, wildlife and oceanographic conservation, natural disaster prevention, such as fire and flood defences, or industrial control of critical assets.

We also predict an explosion of connectivity on new platforms and form factors – on trains, cars, lorries, drones, and personal devices – Application-centric partners building connected services.

Join us at our second Inmarsat Developer Conference in London to discover more about BRM and how we are opening up our networks and platforms to the developer community. Take part in a workshop where we you can get hands on with the BRM APIs and find out for yourself how easy it is to build an application that interacts with the BRM. : What will you build?

About the author

David Bath is Inmarsat’s Senior Director, Strategy and System Architecture and has over 10 years of experience in the satellite industry. His background is in network architecture, particularly ad-hoc and self-forming wireless systems. David has worked on three generations of Inmarsat networks and currently leads the architectural design team for creating next generation network services. He has previously held senior Technology Strategy and Business Development positions and has a Masters degree in systems engineering from the University of Bristol, UK.