Space Products & Innovation
Retail, Finance, and Corporate Services
Innovative companies are constantly looking for new ways to bring spacederived technology to the retail market. A company started by MIT graduates, called Ministry of Supply, is bringing phase-change materials used in NASA spacesuits to Earth as a product called the “Apollo dress shirt.” The fabric regulates heat, moisture, and body odor, while maximizing wearer comfort. To fund the development, Ministry of Supply started a crowd-funding campaign via the Kickstarter website.
Satellite internet is a suitable alternative to conventional cellular and ground-based internet for businesses and farmers operating in remote or difficult-to-reach areas. In 2012, MWEB Business launched a new satellite internet service in South Africa that is designed to benefit farmers, game lodge owners, mining and construction companies, and other customers in areas of the country where conventional services are unavailable. Satellite-based services are also immune to cable theft, a common problem in many developing areas, which can affect the availability of fixed-line communication infrastructure in the region.
Vineyards in South Africa recently began using satellite data to increase the yield of grape harvests and produce higher quality wine while using less water. The GrapeLook service provided by a company called WaterWatch was developed in collaboration with ESA, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in South Africa.
In the information age, space products and services have become increasingly important to the retail, finance, and corporate service sectors. A healthy industry requires reliable access to information in order to reach customers and develop products. Satellite services are versatile, benefiting sophisticated, highly modernized economies as well as poorer, developing regions.
GPS-enabled phone applications are connecting businesses to their customers in new ways. Smartphone applications such as FourSquare, Google Latitude, and Yelp use GPS-enabled phones to allow users visiting a restaurant or store to check in and instantly share their location with friends.
Space can contribute not only to the products and services that individuals purchase and use, but also to those used by entire companies. A spinoff technology based on NASA’s Nebula cloud computing platform is now helping companies to use their information technology resources more efficiently.
A new laser technology, designed to create precise lenses and mirrors for space telescopes, is able to inscribe numbers inside glass without damaging it. The laser operates in a manner similar to lasers used in laser eye correction, by beaming energy through the surface of the glass to make changes within.
Location-based imagery data increasingly provides business and market intelligence to companies. This service combines satellite-based location data with geographic information systems. Satellite surveillance technology is now also being used in the financial sector.