Welcome to the Age of Micro Satellite Swarms

Robot Swarms

In late 2017, Google admitted to tracking user location data no matter what location settings were enabled. About a month later, Chinese officials showcased the prowess of their extensive surveillance system when they tracked down and apprehended a BBC reporter in only seven minutes. All in all, “Big Brother” seems to be a growing reality in our day-to-day lives. This constant surveillance might be getting a boost thanks Finnish tech start-up ICEYE, which aims to launch a fleet of sub-100kg radar micro-satellites.

These tiny satellite swarms will be capable of imaging despite weather conditions or time of day; because they are synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellites, they work independently of light and heat. This capability makes them ideal for government agencies, militaries, and emergency preparedness teams that might need to assess the activity and status of any location on planet Earth.

The satellites are small enough to fit into a 80cm by 60cm by 50cm box — about the size of a microwave oven — and have antennae only 3.5m in length.

ICEYE CEO and co-founder Rafal Modrzewski said to the BBC, “When we started this, we’d go to people and say: ‘Hey, why not build a small SAR satellite that costs just a couple of million?’ And they’d go: ‘Because that’s impossible.’ And then we’d say: ‘But why?’ And they couldn’t answer that.”

A grayscale, high-relief landscape image captured by a synthetic-aperture radar satellite, such as the ones that will be in ICEYE's satellite swarms.
These satellites can see through clouds and darkness. Image Credit: ICEYE

Big Brother

By using “Commercial Off The Shelf” (COTS) pieces in their satellites, ICEYE has made it possible to engineer satellites that are both high-functioning and miniature. “When you move to COTS, you’re suddenly a decade ahead. You get access to the very latest capabilities,” Modrzewski told the BBC.

“The change comes both in cost and in size because COTS components have been miniaturised to fit inside your phone, literally. We are using the same components,” he added.

While this ambitious start-up is making headway with their satellite innovation, it begs the question of our right to privacy. Does the company that owns and operates these satellite swarms determine what can and cannot be imaged? Do we have any say over whether our towns and neighborhoods are imaged? “Big Brother” is in our homes and in our phones, and with increasing satellite technology, in our skies as well.

The post Welcome to the Age of Micro Satellite Swarms appeared first on Futurism.

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Cable and Satellite TV Prices Rising Soon for Most Subscribers

Cable and Satellite TV subscribers, be warned. Your monthly service is about to get a little more expensive.

An analysis of cable TV provider offerings in 2018 has revealed that no fewer than six of America’s largest TV providers have either already implemented, or are planning to implement, price hikes on their services within the coming months, according to BGR.

“Prices are set to rise in 2018 pretty much across the board,” the publication said, adding that most customers who’ve not already been affected, will be within the next three to six months.

Customers who’re locked into a “double play” or “triple play” package with their provider probably won’t be affected right off the bat — at least until their contract is on the cusp of expiring.

Which Cable Companies Are Raising Prices?

Below is a list of national TV providers that will be raising their prices, to what extent, and when we can expect the changes to take place:

Comcast: TV prices will increase by an estimated 2.2% beginning this month.
AT&T/DirecTV: TV prices will go up $ 8/plan, across the board, starting this month.
Verizon: Verizon is currently finalizing its plans to increase rates this year, but none of the financials have been worked out yet.
Charter: Most Charter plans, with few exceptions, will soon go up by an average of $ 10 per month.
• Dish Network: Most channel bundles will go up by $ 5 beginning this month.
• Cox: TV packages are increasing by as much as $ 10, and some internet plan prices are expected to jump as well, later in 2018.

Frustrating, to say the least. Remember to keep in mind that although the price of your cable TV service may be going up, there’s plenty of other options for those who yearn for quality content on the cheap.

You can try calling your provider once these price changes take affect, hoping that a little kicking and screaming will encourage them to renew your current plan at the current price for another year or two — though this is understandably a near-term solution, if you’re lucky to even get that far.

Another option would be to follow in the footsteps of millions of other Americans who’re straight up cutting the cord and never looking back. Digital streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are fantastic options for content lovers — and while they won’t provide the same “real-time” experience you’d get from cable TV, they definitely offer their own slate of perks — and are much less expensive.

To learn more about some great, alternative options to cable TV, be sure to check out our complete guide to cutting the cord.

Will you cancel your cable TV service when these price changes take affect? Let us know in the comments.

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