Iridium Communications Inc introduced on Tuesday what it deems as the industry's first portable satellite hotspot. Called the Iridium GO!, the hotspot device allows users to make calls, send messages and troll Internet forums when they've moved outside their wireless carrier's coverage. The hotspot device produces a wireless coverage radius of 100 feet, allowing five simultaneous connections.
Why would you need a satellite-connecting hotspot? Travelers in remote countries would still have an Internet connection until they reach a café with a local wireless network. Those hiking in the mountains would have a solid connection, able to catch an email or call emergency responders if something goes wrong (bad fall, snake bite, etc.).
"Iridium GO! expands our portfolio and speaks to both how people use devices today and the growing and changing needs within enterprises," stated Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. "Iridium GO! enables people to use their own trusted devices – their smartphone or tablet – even when they are off the cellular grid."
The Iridium Go! is quite simple to use. Raise the antenna and it automatically connects to the Iridium network. Smartphones and tablets, connecting via the Wi-Fi signal distributed by the hotspot, must then use an installed Iridium app to make voice calls, texts, send out an SOS if needed, give a precise location to family, friends or emergency responders, and so on.
According to the company, the Iridium Go! is highly portable and meant for outdoor use; it's rugged, built to withstand rain, sand, dust and other roughhousing. The SOS aspect actually creates a fast, two-way connection with an emergency provider. That should be good news for those who journey miles and miles outside their wireless carrier's network.
Iridium has also made the hotspot developer friendly. Iridium is licensing the capability to allow app developers to utilize the Iridium satellite network through Iridium GO! to tailor their products. The current developer roster includes OCEANS, Global Marine Networks, Satcom Direct, Appareo Systems, DeLorme, AIRSIS and JouBeh Technologies.
"Iridium GO! is Iridium NEXT-ready; it works on the current satellite network and will work with the new Iridium NEXT satellites that will begin launching in 2015," reads the company's press release.
Iridium GO! will be available during the first half of 2014 through select Iridium distribution partners. The Iridium GO! developers program is currently available for select partners, and is expected to be commercially available in Q2 2014.