NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used a portable device from Mushroom Networks to help capture live feeds of its June 8 test vehicle launch from Hawaii. The launch was designed to test NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) technology, which is expected to play a role in future robotic missions to Mars.
With Streamer, video is streamed over bonded 3G/4G cards.
Mushroom Networks' Streamer bonds multiple broadband connections, fixed or wireless, into a single high-speed pipe optimized for transmitting live high-quality video and audio webcasts. Streamer basically takes 3G/4G cellular data ports--up to four or eight depending on the model--and combines them to create a single Internet tunnel, optimizing it for live video streaming and sending it to its destination, such as YouTube.
"We enable high-speed and very reliable Internet connectivity for live streaming by bringing together otherwise unreliable and perhaps not fast enough links together in an intelligent way to enable live streaming," Cahit Akin, CEO of Mushroom Networks, told FierceWirelessTech.
On a ridge in Kauai, Hawaii, where JPL launched its rocket-powered, saucer-shaped vehicle into near space, a camera fed video through a Streamer device. The tracking camera was outfitted with Verizon and AT&T data cards. "All of a sudden, in the middle of nowhere, they have very fast" and reliable Internet access to push the video anywhere on the Internet, Akin explained.
Streamer works with older technologies like 3G and newer ones like LTE, which opened up applications like simultaneous feeds over the bonded pipe. But it also will be adaptable to newer technologies--whether that be 5G, 6G and so on. "We have a software-defined architecture on the systems," Akin said.
When it comes to RF, reliability can be an issue with signal fade and other circumstances. Akin said the nice thing is Streamer will shield negative impacts from the video layer and the transmission will still happen "crystal clear"; the packets are coded before being sent out, so at the receiving side, the system has the capability to reconstruct the loss packets from the packets that are arriving from the other links. "So it's almost like a forward-error correction scheme, but it's a little bit different. It's a very nice way of making a reliable and fast link out of 'unreliable' and sometimes not as fast links. I think that aspect will continue to be a major component," including with LTE-Unlicensed, LTE-Advanced and going into 5G, he said.
One way to look at bonding is through a highway analogy, he said. If you think of a single cell card as a lane in a highway, "with bonding what you're doing is bringing together multiple highway lanes together to create a fatter pipe, and now we have more lanes, or cars, which are packets basically, which flow much more quicker, much more agile between two points," he explained. So instead of one lane that might have a traffic jam, there are now multiple lanes and that traffic jam can be avoided because the "car" switches lanes. "It's kind of similar where we're bringing individual IP lines into a fatter IP tunnel for a faster and more reliable connection."
Mushroom Networks is not directly involved in Internet.org, but its equipment frequently is used in areas where Internet coverage otherwise is not available. It can be used for medical applications as well as for streaming local high school sporting events, for example.
NASA's LDSD technology could lay the groundwork for potentially allowing humans to land on Mars. LDSD is designed to help safely land heavier spacecraft, which will be needed to accommodate extended stays on the Martian surface. NASA's LDSD flight test on Monday was deemed a partial success, as the saucer's parachute deployed only partially. NASA said in a Tweet that it will study data from the test to "learn and improve."
Reaching Mach 4, #LDSD's SIAD deployed & inflated. Chute deployed, but did not inflate. We'll study data from this test to learn & improve.— NASA Technology (@NASA_Technology) June 8, 2015
During last year's test launch, NASA could only share the first minutes of the device's journey into near space because the only cameras available were stationed on the ground. At this latest launch, NASA had the new, high-resolution tracking camera positioned on the ridge to capture the rocket-powered vehicle as it traveled up to 120,000 feet in the air.
Streamer weighs 1.3 pounds and comes standard with four USB ports, one RJ-45 Ethernet connector, support for most common video streaming protocols and video servers, built-in firewall, built-in QoS, and an option to add four wired WAN ports.
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