By focusing on how to optimally create the best user experience for communicating highest quality images (photos and video) over bandwidth-limited communications systems, BEATLES targets key challenges in Mobile Satellite communications in general, and new Alphasat opportunities based on BGAN and GSPS in particular.
BEATLES targets emergency, disaster, safety and security organisations, that need visual situational awareness and GNSS integration with interfaces to GIS and mapping
BEATLES objectives cover the design, development, implementation and validation, through pilot user trials, of an innovative application exploiting the new Alphasat and current Inmarsat 4 satellites using the BGAN and GSPS systems. The project will be developing solutions which provide:
- New opportunities and a major competitive and operational advantage with respect to existing options, by changing the communications paradigm, while substantially improving the visual Quality of Experience of image (photo/video) communications over satellite.
- New features cover image and sensor communications, integrations with more peripheral units, including support for using small UAVs and Android smartphones connected to GSPS:
- Video, exploiting a push-pull approach using an initial storyboard to select segments of interest,
- Adaptive streaming video with QoE priorities,
- Photo communication over IsatPhone Pro at rates of 2 kbps,
- Android interconnection with IsatPhone Pro,
- Flexible, adaptive Network Coding for using multiple bearers.
Visual communication in high quality is known to require good bandwidth and capacity. Our overall fundamental technical and operational challenge is that we do not always have that available, and then how to create the best User Experience for communications of high definition multimedia over band limited L-band satellite systems, and systems with similar challenges.
These are fundamental challenges in digital communications, and with increasing ability to capture higher resolution imagery, the challenge is not becoming smaller in the near future.
The main benefit of the project is that visual communications over mobile satellite systems is taken to a new level. Faster, better, cheaper and more efficiently than ever, the technology will make possible what was previously not, and lower the threshold for taking advantage of satellite communications as an additional option for solutions that simply must work all the time – always.
User groups whom may benefit include those working to save lives, environment and infrastructure, those involved in law enforcement, safety and civil protection, public utilities and airborne surveillance, to mention some.
We also see benefits for the rapidly growing UAV market, where sending imagery live from flight is an essential task.
The ability to automatically let applications use satellite or mobile networks when available, or bonding two or more potentially different satellite terminals adds to the flexibility and user friendliness of the system, lowering the threshold for connecting applications to satellite terminals.
The ability to connect Android smartphones to GSPS and send small images even at rates around 2 kbps will expand the functionality of satellite phones.
Our objective is to make sources, such as photos, video, sound and sensors, rapidly available for an on-line Web-based control center, via BGAN and GSPS. The information can be real-time streaming or fast file transfer, and even the highest quality of the sources shall be available at the receiver side.
Via the web-interface, control center users can assess the data, monitor events in real time, make decisions and communicate these to the same or other field users able to act upon them as required.
We are thinking out of the box, and focus on what information is important for users there and then, considering potentially complex cost-metrics, such as image quality, speed, transfer cost, networking, choice of communication, and regions or segments of interest.
- Optimal image communications and management,
- Easy to use, powerful integrated solution from camera and sensors, via server to receivers,
- Situational awareness for integrated operations,
- Direct geo-tagging and system interface to GIS systems,
- Low operational cost by using a push-pull system where only desired data is transferred in hi resolution,
- . Lower cost, low delay before a first view is available, since the initial amount of data sent is small,
- Concept leads to low bandwidth use for access to highest resolution images,
- Robust transfer protocols that do not need stable links,
- Central network resources control, ability to only send what is relevant there and then,
- Integration to user equipment and other systems by development of an API,
- Runs seamlessly over any IP network; satellite, mobile GSM/3G and more.
Use Case Applications
- Field operations with real-time image coordination,
- Disaster and emergency management,
- Governmental operations, scouts, surveillance,
- Interactive real time inspection, verification, training,
- Blue light operations: police, fire, ambulance, civil protection,
- Journalism; rapid publishing, direct web update from camera.
The duration of the project is 18 months. The planning approach is to study the user requirements followed by designing and developing the solutions into a common service-framework that targets user requirements and the objectives of the BEATLES project. This will require some adaptation work which will also be performed as part of the service set-up. Work packages are strictly defined according to the task list given in the Statement of Work, with additions where necessary specifically for BEATLES.
Spanning the whole project, the business case will be developed and refined.
The project is well underway with Critical Design Review held in March 2013 and Pilot Qualification Review planned before the summer holidays 2013. As of May 2013 most of the design and implementation is complete, while final testing and deployment for the selected pilot users remain.
The project is on track.