How Satellite Technology is transforming the world of adventure

It has been suggested in some quarters that technology is taking the edge off exploration and adventure. High tech kit and the latest gadgets, it is said, dilute human accomplishment out there in the wilds and great wildernesses of our planet. As our capability to track and monitor our every move advances, levels of excitement and challenge are diminished because we are losing a sense of isolation and distance. That’s how the argument goes, at least.

I disagree, and I am pleased to say I am not alone. Mark Evans, for instance, used Thuraya equipment when recreating the Empty Quarter crossing of 1930 with an international team of explorers who set out from Oman. But the experience was much the same, 85 years on. They still covered more than 800 miles in YY days on foot, in the same heat. Incidentally, they claimed that the camels they used for the journey were no match for their forebears, which added to the logistical challenges. They were met, of course, by the timeless hospitality of the Bedouin people living there, just as their predecessors had enjoyed.

Thuraya SatSleeve+

Technology diluted none of this. Instead, it opened up the journey by making it possible to share the experience with the many people who were following the team’s progress. The data sent via a Thuraya IP+ brought the journey to life for a wider audience around the world. The team’s sense of wonder at the beauty of their surroundings was enhanced, not reduced, by their ability to share it.

Thuraya IP+ mobile satellite broadband terminal

Technology disseminates the same sense of wonder mankind has always had, showing more people than ever just what is possible. So adventure is becoming more inclusive, more accessible. Technology is opening up more of the world to more people, raising the bar of human achievement by encouraging more people to do great things. It is changing how we see the world, without making the environment less challenging itself: environments previously deemed impracticable are being embraced.

There is no doubt the first explorers, venturing out into the great unknown, were faced with a level of uncertainty that is no longer there. But that uncertainty was lessened as soon as those first explorers achieved what they set out to do. Moreover, it is hard to imagine any but the most foolhardy explorers ever setting out without first equipping themselves with the most advanced materials of the day.

Those who rue the fact that life is easier for today’s adventurers and thrill seekers thanks to satellite communications and versatile internet connections overlook this. It is right to champion the pioneers, yet I believe the earliest explorers would have not hesitated to bring along such lifesaving tools, if they had the option. There are all too many explorers who have perished in their desire to discover our world whose deaths set us back decades, evencenturies, who would otherwise have survived, had they had access to the levels of technology their successors enjoy.

Our technology is today’s equivalent of Bond Chronometers, the Bygrave Position-Line Slide Rule, the Ramsden Sextant and countless other pieces of equipment that explorers adopted. Whichever century you are living in, technology makes life easier and safer, saving us valuable time. 

Imaginative new applications of modern technology are exciting. While the idea of using your smartphone or health apps to monitor your vital signs is not new, having them reach your health provider from the most remote and harshest of earth’s landscapes, in real-time, is groundbreaking. So how does that work and how might it affect a person going on a solo round-the-world sailing trip or an expedition to the Antarctic? Well, we at Thuraya recently put this all to the test by joining forces with WiCis Sports, supporting a climbing expedition to the Himalayas.

WiCis-Sports Wearable Solution

We collaborated on wearable devices that compile and update vital data such as the heart rate, body temperature, oxygen saturation, location, altitude and speed of each climber. This data is then uploaded to the cloud by connecting to our satellite network via Thuraya IP+, SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot. It thus becomes accessible and downloadable in ‘real-time’ for health professionals and the climbers themselves. The climbers also have access to live weather updates, to allow them to navigate around or avoid certain catastrophes. And, naturally, the same data links allow them to upload to social media platforms using the Thuraya network and products.

So what does it all mean? It certainly means satellite technology is making adventuring, discovery, even hard science more accessible to the able-bodied citizen of the world. It means that the average age of adventurers can go up, allowing fit seniors to accomplish more for longer. It also means we will have fewer unnecessary injuries and fatalities, faster rescues and full recoveries. More scientists can venture beyond the confines of their labs into the real world and actually score that discovery, push that envelope and advance the human needle of progress. And most importantly, it means many more of us get to experience the glory that is Earth, out in its natural habitat.. away from CGI and VR. What are you waiting for? Go play outside!

Satellite communications technology brings people & communities closer.


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