Bullitt to offer satellite texting in Australia

British rugged phone maker Bullitt plans to install its satellite connect platform in Australia, which will allow texting from anywhere in the country.

The company, which sells rugged phones locally under the Caterpillar (Cat) brand, unveiled a satellite handset and a small Bluetooth device that will connect any phone to a satellite system.

Lead product manager at Bullitt Group Pete Cunningham told ChannelNews at MWC, Mobile World congress in Barcelona, that Australia was on its roadmap for late 2023. He says the Caterpillar brand is currently sold through Telstra locally.

“We’ve got a great rugged phone. We’ve integrated satellite technology that allows us to send and receive messages by satellite when we don’t have network coverage.

“There is a roadmap to deliver voice in this format but that’s 18 months to two years off. At the moment it’s just texting.”

Bullitt Group this week will demonstrate the operation of its satellite texting technology at Mobile World Congress, which is underway in Barcelona.

He says Bullitt has worked with Taiwanese semiconductor firm MediaTek to integrate its narrowband IoT chipset into its rebuilt Bullitt handset for satellite communications.

“We’ve developed a software framework that allows the chipset to talk to the Android platform. That enables us to send messages to satellites that are 22,000 miles (35,400km) away.”

He predicts the rollout of the phone and its satellite service locally by mid year. “By the middle of 2023, we will light up Australia,” Mr Cunningham says, adding that the service already operates in the UK and US.

He says Bullitt Group is in talks with “all the operators” in Australia. “For Australia, this is fantastic.”

Bullitt Group was among about 20 companies spruiking its services at a ShowStoppers preview event in Barcelona yesterday.

Fectar, a firm that develops VR and AR experiences for education, retail, onboarding and events, demonstrated a special augmented reality application for Ukrainian children so they can identify landmines and keep their distance.

Founder and CEO Eugene Kuipers says about a third of Ukraine is scattered with unexplored Russian ammunition and mines, some of which doesn’t even look like a mine. He says some deadly mines took the shape of butterfly wings and didn’t look dangerous.

“Some of the ammunition the Russians use is more than 30 years old and of poor quality when it was built. About 30 per cent doesn’t go off when it’s fired. So it’s lying around there.” He says unexploded ordnances may be around in Ukraine “for decades”.

The AR experience begins with a hologram teacher explaining the danger to children in Ukrainian. They can then look for virtualised mines lying around in their environment. The AR experience warns of the deadly danger when one is detected nearby. Phones from about 2015 can view the content.

He says the experience was developed with the help of former US marine Charlie Valentine.

Fectar and Mr Valentine worked to create models of the mines and ammunition. Mr Kuipers says the content is available for free.

He says it’s totally impractical to show children ranges of deactivated mines in the real world, while virtualisation can excel at the task.

Another company, MyManu, demonstrated the cloning of a user’s eSIM profile from a phone to its Titan earbuds. It lets a user go walking with a headset and take calls while leaving their phone at home. Their music cloud accounts on Spotify and other services can also be cloned. “You will still be able to stay connected with people,” says MyManu representative Rodolphe Soulard.

The system uses data stored in the cloud associated with the user’s phone number, he says.

He adds that MyManu has a translation app that also can be downloaded to the device.

He says Titan would be of additional benefit to the visually impaired, being voice controlled.

The system is being launched in two or three locations initially and has to be tested with telecom operators individually. He says Australia is on the roadmap for early 2024.

Japan-based Alt Inc, meanwhile, showcased its service which involves creating a digital clone of a person, which can be made available to relatives after death.

Chief business officer Memori Yamato says it takes three to four months to gather the information about a person and create a clone with the same looks and voice as the deceased person.

This can be done years before death and new information added throughout life. It’s also possible to augment the clone with information gleaned from social media. Clones can be modified to look older as a client ages.

Clones can interact with their descendants, and a business founder’s ideas can be preserved “for future generations”, according to Alt’s promotional material.

Ms Yamato says the project involved nine years of research and development and currently there are three customers.

“Your descendants and grandchildren can talk to you and ask you why did you get married to your wife,” she explains.

Access to digital clones of loved ones is currently made available through the web.

Digitally cloning people for interactions after death isn’t new and has been achieved with holographic representations of Holocaust survivors. But making it available as a general service to the public comes with ethical issues that AI Inc says it is keen to address.

Ms Yamato says the company could turn its attention to creating clones of people that can be used in the Metaverse.

Published by Channel News Australia.

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