TECHNOLOGIES THAT MATTER

We believe that state of the art technology is key to innovation.

The following technology trends are important to our
Product Roadmap and to the markets that we serve.

 
 
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IoT is rapidly gaining traction in the marine industry

IoT is rapidly gaining traction in the marine industry

MARINE IOT
EDGE AND CLOUD COMPUTING

Navcast was an early adopter of IoT. Marine IoT genesis is marine telematics systems, Navcast’s legacy systems. These systems have revolutionized the boating/shipping, recreational/commercial fishing industries.  To the boat/fleet owner, marine IoT provides the ability, for example, to track a boat’s location, access engine analytics, control onboard devices remotely, and receive real-time alerts when critical or unexpected events happen.

The Navcast mSeries architecture and product line has evolved to become an integral part of marine IoT. The SkyMate mSeries includes an IoT Edge device, in the marine IoT computing topology terminology, a delivery gateway to the cloud for content collection and information processing (i.e. from aggregators, sensors and things).

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The mSeries keeps the traffic and processing local, with the goal being to reduce traffic and latency (particularly on the satellite links).

In the near term, edge is being driven by IoT and the need is to keep the processing close to the end rather than on a centralized cloud server. As the cloud services evolve, with the advances in communications infrastructure, processing will become more centralized in the cloud.

Over the next five years, Gartner predicts that specialized AI chips, along with greater processing power, storage and other advanced capabilities, will be added to a wider array of edge devices, with extreme heterogeneity.

Gartner also says that longer term, as 5G matures, the expanding edge computing environment will have more robust communication back to centralized services. 5G provides lower latency, higher bandwidth, and (very importantly for edge) a dramatic increase in the number of nodes (edge endpoints) per square km.

 
Edge computing is being driven by IoT

Edge computing is being driven by IoT

blockchain

Blockchain, a type of distributed immutable ledger, promises to provide an alternative trust model for arbitrating transactions.

We see a system, based on this technology, that can be deployed to monitor the seafood supply chain to provide global seafood traceability (regulated by commercial and government bodies), allowing the consumer to know the “what, where and when” of their seafood purchases. This is a unique opportunity for Navcast, as the supplier of the data/system that is the source of time/space fish catch information.   The entire traceability system tracks to the original source of the seafood from Navcast’s product domain.

Kien Tran, Navcast’s Principal Development Engineer and William Ricaurte, Navcast’s Principal Communications Engineer, predicts that the mSeries edge device with some specialized sensors, could be positioned to provide the initial ledger entry in a seafood traceability system. Our approach to blockchain is directly linked to our IoT strategy.

 
Machine learning is driving AI

Machine learning is driving AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

Forbes predicts that there will be a “rise of AI-enabled chips”, specialized processors that complement the CPU. They also recently said that “In 2019, AI meets IoT at the edge computing layer.” Models trained in the cloud will be deployed at the edge.

Based on this, we see the use of AI chips in our edge devices (e.g. mSeries for regulated fisheries) to help identify illegal fishing or to detect tampering and anomalies… trained by the on-shore GIS/AI pattern processing of the geo-event data (including position reports) received over time from various fishing fleets.

We also see the use of AI being used to help sport fisherman find fish faster… by training an AI how to predict good fishing spots by analyzing Sea Surface Temperature and Chlorophyll imagery trends relative to where fish are being caught.

Our mazu Sentry vessel monitoring product can be greatly enhanced by interfacing with AI artifacts. The sensor data patterns could automatically trigger events that have automated action plans end user “programmed” into the edge. At Navcast, both Mark Simic, Navcast’s Principal Application Developer, and William Ricaurte agree that there will continue to be steady progress in AI, bringing incremental improvements and benefits, but it’s all about the deep or machine learning process to achieve high value execution.

 
Emerging satellite and 5G will significantly enhance the heterogeneous edge integration

Emerging satellite and 5G will significantly enhance the heterogeneous edge integration

WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS

Navcast has been in the satellite business for 15+ years. The Iridium constellation/network, perhaps the best-known LEO system currently in operation, is the backbone of our mSeries. Navcast plans to leverage its IP around the new/emerging satellite and 5G technologies. With higher bandwidth and a lower-latency broadband with pervasive connectivity, edge devices will evolve quickly and powerfully.

The population of SmallSats is exploding. High Throughput Satellite (HTS) networks are taking off. OneWeb, LeoSat and Starlink, upcoming new LEO constellations for example, will also begin to address the needs of applications requiring more bandwidth and lower latency. We predict that satellite communications will play a key role as building blocks for IoT. There is a strong IoT use case for satellites when at sea and in developing regions where there are large coverage gaps in remote areas.

William Ricaurte says that “it’s clear that satellite technology is on the rise. We are positioned well to integrate with any of these emerging wireless technologies as they become commercially available.” Ferenc Vereb, Navcast’s Principal Hardware Design Engineer, and adds that the new satellite technologies are also becoming significantly more versatile and easier to integrate with.

 
AI make apps more intuitive and helps deliver a better user experience

AI make apps more intuitive and helps deliver a better user experience

MEDIA, CONTENT AND APPS

Navcast was an early adopter of IoT. Since 2011, we have been developing applications to interact with our previous and current edge devices.  We continually improve and expand our marine IoT offerings by introducing new features and integrating new technologies into our applications.

Technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are enhancing people’s perception of the digital world in relation to the physical world around them. Along with IoT, Reality technologies are the future of human-computer interaction. “Our products will be made more immersive and relatable to customers with the use of Reality technologies, allowing them to look out at the surrounding ocean with an additional digital layer providing them with relevant data”, says Mark Simic.

Progressive web applications are web applications that load like regular web pages or websites but can offer the user functionality such as working offline, push notifications, and device hardware access traditionally available only to native applications.  There was initially resistance to web applications due to performance and functionality limitations. However, with the continual performance improvements of web APIs and increased hardware access, this resistance is disappearing. We plan to use this technology, as it evolves, in the web UI of our commercial mSeries system.

 
Powerful heterogeneous edge devices and smart sensors

Powerful heterogeneous edge devices and smart sensors

Embedded Systems and DEvice architectures

The embedded systems industry is currently undergoing an amazing transformation that will allow developers to build more robust, secure and connected systems far faster than has ever been possible (time-to-market). Ulo Reskov, Navcast’s Senior Embedded Systems Developer says, “in order to stay relevant and to compete, we must keep an eye on these trends and take full advantage of the new techniques and technological advances.”

Our immediate goals are the reduction of edge power requirements while maintaining connectivity/communications (short to long haul) and data acquisition capabilities. Our targets include the utilization of renewable energy sources and energy harvesting to make our edge device operation be independent of external power.

Ulo Reskov asserts that we have to take advantage of the rapidly evolving embedded communications platforms to remain competitive. These new platforms allow us to provide new cloud connectivity minimizing data throughput costs.