Hubble Network makes Bluetooth connection with a satellite for the first time | TechCrunch

hubble network It has become the first company in history to establish a direct Bluetooth connection to a satellite – a significant technology validation for the company, potentially opening the door to connecting millions more devices anywhere in the world.

The Seattle-based startup launched its first two satellites into orbit on SpaceX’s Transporter-10 ride-share mission in March; Since that time, the company confirmed that it has received signals from the onboard 3.5mm Bluetooth chips from more than 600 kilometers away.

The sky really is the limit for space-enabled Bluetooth devices: The startup says its technology can be used in logistics, cattle tracking, smart collars for pets, GPS watches for kids, car inventory, construction sites, and soil temperature monitoring. Including monitoring can be done in the markets. Haro said the biggest problem are industries that are desperate for network coverage even once a day, such as remote asset monitoring for the oil and gas industry. As the constellation scales, Hubble will focus its attention on areas that may require more frequent updates, such as continuous coverage use cases such as soil monitoring, fall monitoring for the elderly.

Once it is up and running, customers will simply need to integrate their device’s chipset with a piece of firmware to enable connection to Hubble’s network.

Hubble was founded in 2021 by Life360 co-founder Alex Haro, Iotera founder Ben Wild (who sold his startup to Ring), and aerospace engineer John Kim. Haro said that when Wild first presented the idea of ​​connecting a Bluetooth chip to a satellite, his initial reaction was, “No weird way.” And that seems odd, especially when consumer electronics can have difficulty connecting to other Bluetooth-enabled devices that are just a few feet away.

But the demand is there: The company says existing IoT devices are power-hungry, expensive to operate and lack global connectivity. These are the fundamental limitations associated with Bluetooth-enabled devices today, and they prevent many industries from taking advantage of IoT for their businesses.

Company joins Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 cohort Closed a $20 million Series A last March. Hubble’s first innovation was to develop software enabling off-the-shelf Bluetooth chips to communicate over very long distances with low power.

On the space side, the company also patented a phased array antenna that can be launched on a small satellite. The antennas work almost like a magnifying glass, and it enables an off-the-shelf Bluetooth chip to communicate with the Hubble satellite. The team also had to solve problems related to Doppler, the frequency mismatch between fast-moving objects exchanging data via radio waves.

One of Hubble’s satellites in the Terrestrial Test Orbiter.

Hubble aims to launch a third satellite on SpaceX’s Transporter-11 mission and a fourth satellite on Transporter-13 this summer. Those four satellites will compose what Haro calls a “beta constellation,” he said, and pilot customers are just starting to get their integration underway today. The startup plans to launch the following 32 satellites simultaneously in the fourth quarter of 2025 or early 2026, although the launch provider has not yet been selected.

Those 36 satellites will compose Hubble’s first “production constellation” and they will enable connections with the Hubble satellites for about 2–3 hours per day from anywhere in the world.