Satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat hosted its first ever developer conference in London this week and introduced developers to APIs that give them the ability to interact with its satellite network.
The goal: allow third-party developers to build the next generation of innovative applications that utilize Inmarsat’s satellite network. That network is used in a variety of industries, from aviation to shipping, and has seen its capabilities grow by leaps and bounds recently. In the past two years, Inmarsat has spent more than a billion dollars launching new satellites that offer significantly higher bandwidth, creating new possibilities for Inmarsat and its Certified Application Providers (CAPs).
In an effort to ensure that the capabilities of its growing network are fully utilized, Inmarsat has developed APIs that it offers to CAPs and last year selected Apigee to manage those APIs.
On Tuesday, David Schoen, Inmarsat’s Vice President of Product and Network Innovation, spoke to developers about the tools Inmarsat is offering and gave examples of the types of applications that can be built using them. On Wednesday, Inmarsat hosted a number of hands-on technical workshops designed to introduce developers to specific APIs and demonstrate how they can be applied. On Thursday, Inmarsat wrapped up its conference with sessions exploring the untapped opportunities that exist in the markets Inmarsat serves.
To boldly go where no man has gone before: there’s an API for that
Inmarsat is just one of a number of companies that is looking to democratize access to the final frontier. Upstarts like Planet Labs and Skybox Imaging, which was acquired by Google, are giving the private sector access to satellite networks and offer APIs through which their customers can obtain satellite imagery. UrtheCast, which has cameras on the International Space Station (ISS), currently offers APIs that allow developers to track the ISS and obtain its recent imagery. Others, like GeoOptics and PlanetiQ, are working to build satellite networks capable of capturing weather and atmospheric data.
While launching satellites into space is still a complex proposition, the costs have come down significantly. Iit is clear that the private sector will play a major role in the exploration of space, and earth from space, going forward. One of the primary ways the players in this market will monetize their capabilities is through APIs that give companies the ability to programmatically acquire data that can help their businesses.