The curving Earth and the black sky of space serve as the backdrop for NetMotion Software’s balloon-borne contraption, outfitted with an iPad that maintained a Skype connection at an altitude of 85,000 feet. (NetMotion Software via YouTube)
What’s the best way to show off your mobile networking technology? How about demonstrating that the technology can seamlessly switch between WiFi, cellular and satellite data connectivity while it’s flying on a balloon up to a height of 85,000 feet?
That’s the answer that Seattle-based NetMotion Software came up with when it sought to showcase its mobile video conferencing capabilities.
In January, NetMotion engineers lashed an Apple iPad and an array of webcams, networking equipment and GPS trackers to a flightworthy frame, and attached the frame to a weather balloon. They set up a Skype video connection to a Microsoft Surface Book sitting in the back of their car. Then they let the contraption fly, fly away from their launch site at Mountains Edge Regional Park in Las Vegas.
Thanks to the NetMotion Mobility software installed on the iPad, the Skype connection switched smoothly from the team’s personal WiFi hotspot to the iPad’s cellular LTE link at a height of 500 feet.