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Apple’s ‘secret team’ working on satellite tech to beam data to devices

Apple Inc has a secret team working on satellites and related wireless technology, striving to find new ways to beam data such as internet connectivity directly to its devices, according to people familiar with the work.

The California-based iPhone maker has about a dozen engineers from the aerospace, satellite and antenna design industries working on the project with the goal of deploying their results within five years, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal company efforts.

Work on the project is still early and could be abandoned, the people said, and a clear direction and use for satellites hasn’t been finalised. Still, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Cook, has shown interest in the project, indicating it’s a company priority. Apple’s work on communications satellites and next-generation wireless technology means the aim is likely to beam data to a user’s device, potentially mitigating the dependence on wireless carriers, or for linking devices together without a traditional network.

Location tracking

Apple could also be exploring satellites for more precise location tracking for its devices, enabling improved maps and new features.

It is not clear if Apple intends to pursue the costly development of a satellite constellation itself or simply harness on-the-ground equipment that would take data from existing satellites and send it to mobile devices. Northrop Grumman Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co are some of the biggest satellite makers. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. Inc plans to deploy over 3,000 satellites as part of a future constellation. However, the industry is littered with failures. Newer efforts from Facebook, SpaceX and Amazon are a long way from generating revenue, and Apple rarely enters new categories without a clear way to make money.

Source: The Hindu