Alenia Spazio, a Finmeccanica company, will be present at SMAU 01 with the latest developments in satellite telecommunications, together with the Eutelsat operator that supplies the satellite capacity for the creation of new services.
The Italian company's exhibition area at SMAU 01 represents the city of the future, a place where satellite technology is a major player.
Illustrating this will be three of Alenia Spazio's major projects: SkyplexNet, Gemini I e Galileo.
SkyplexNet is the world's first, and only, digital satellite communications platform. By allowing service operators and content providers direct access to the satellite, it contributes to the wide distribution of satellite networks for PCs as well as digital television.
The main applications of SkyplexNet are Web TV, multicast distribution of multimedia files, and distance learning and interactive video communications. A number of already operative commercial agreements bear witness to the considerable interest in the new SkyplexNet system: ENEL.IT; Catholic University; Openet of Matera, providing services to public administration and training and information services to schools; ITS, Information Technology Services, a company providing communication and distance learning services primarily aimed at a business clientele; Relive, aimed at distance learning and on-line services for disabled users; Cliocom, an Internet provider offering distance learning services; and, the most recent, Feedback, a company 40% controlled by Société Générale, providing services using multimedia technologies.
Thanks to SkyplexNet, access to the satellite is immediate and economical. Clients can use the service through a small antenna linked to a PC, supported by a special card, or to a normal TV. In fact, the operators reach their business and residential customers either through a parabolic antenna for digital television, which the end users possess, or by installing new ones. At present there are around five thousand antennas in Italy dedicated to SkyplexNet and some six million used for links to digital channels.
The stand at SMAU will demonstrate the practical functioning of some of the more important applications of SkyplexNet technology, including those aimed at interactive business TV and distance learning.
With SkyplexNet, Alenia Spazio opens the way to the new generation of satellites that will be increasingly important in the era of the converging of Internet and television.
Satellite telecommunications will also provide significant support to medicine. An example of this is Gemini I, the first prototype of a transportable, multimedia medical clinic prepared by Alenia Spazio in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The innovation lies in having designed a system of medical diagnosis integrated with a broadband satellite network so as to have immediate access to specialist medical knowledge when it is necessary to act in remote areas or in emergencies.
Gemini I, the first in a series of possible units to meet the growing demand for new and more efficient medical services, will function using satellite technology, the only one able to guarantee complete versatility, reliability, efficiency and global coverage. Completely autonomous and designed to support fixed and mobile structures (e.g. field hospitals), Gemini I needs only a general practitioner who, thanks to extremely simple technology, can easily set up the link with hospitals and clinics and request the specialist tele-consultation.
With Gemini I the on-board medical staff will be able, in a short time, to send to a remote center the results of clinical examinations carried out on the bus or pictures of the patient to help consultation. The possibility for in-depth analysis (e.g. TAC, echogram electrocardiographs, and blood and vital parameter tests) makes the system a mini mobile hospital.
There will be many repercussions in medicine: from surgery to traumatology, and to basic, specialist and emergency diagnosis.
Still with medicine, at SMAU Alenia Spazio will exhibit the first system of satellite telemedicine for cruise ships. The prototype is on board the European Vision, the Festival Crociere ship that hosted politicians during the G8 in Genoa. The system allows anyone to be examined by one of the specialists from the linked hospitals and clinics.
At SMAU, Alenia Spazio is also presenting Galileo, the constellation of 30 satellites orbiting 23,000 km above the Earth for which the Finmeccanica company is industrial prime contractor. The program is destined to become a key element in the movement of vehicles, people and goods. To be launched in 2008, it will provide global (around the world) and multimode (all categories of transport) coverage and will have civilian applications.
Of particular interest is the public utility service offered by Galileo that will allow state administrations to monitor critical areas where protecting lives is a priority (e.g. humanitarian aid and support). Special access control techniques could be used to restrict the service to authorized clients and specific geographical areas.
At the service of companies and citizens, the program will have a wide application: agriculture and fishing, ecology and mobile communications, including personal mobility.
In particular, Galileo will be of enormous help in ground, sea, railway and air traffic.
For the latter, Galileo, which is compatible with the current systems of satellite navigation (GPS and inertial), will improve safety by ensuring that the ground command and control systems are able to receive, in real time, sure and reliable information on the craft's position.
In the case of ground transport, use is through a receiver installed inside the vehicle and linked to the satellite to provide drivers with every kind of information, thereby avoiding the need to consult maps and easing traffic flows.
This, too, will contribute to making the project one of the most innovative, destined to have significant repercussions in the near future on improving the quality of life.